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Charolais celebrates other notable jubilee of the year; FIRST IMPORTS 50 YEARS AGO CHANGED THE INDUSTRY.

Byline: SALLY WILLIAMS

THE British Charolais Cattle Society - the first Continental beef breed society to be established in the UK - is celebrating its Golden Jubilee this month.

It is just over 50 years since the inaugural cattle imports - a breakthrough which revolutionised the British beef industry. Welsh Charolais breeder Dai Lewis, president of Charolais International, the breed's umbrella organisation of 27 member countries, said: "The Charolais pioneers spent over six years breaking down the import barriers before the Government finally gave the green light for the first importation of bulls in 1961.

"And then only under its own terms of agreement.

"Until then the UK beef sector depended solely on native breeds and few, if any, resources had contributed towards improving their performance. "Those first 26 Charolais bulls to set foot on British soil were to remain the property of the Government and be administered through the former Milk Marketing Board and independent artificial insemination (AI) stations.

"They entered into extensive nationally-conducted trials managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's (MAFF) chief scientific adviser.

"The Charolais pioneers went on to establish a grading-up scheme and the British Charolais Cattle Society was founded in 1962.

"Charolais arrived in Wales shortly afterwards when one of the very first calves born from that initial intake of bulls was born at Penbontbren Farm, Glynarthen, Llandysul, Ceredigion.

"While the breed was initially imported to improve the dairy herd, by the late 1960s Charolais had been successfully introduced as a terminal sire within the suckler herd.

"The breed was an immediate success in the marketplace.

"These high-performing Charolais cross-calves with superior weight for their age, commanded instant premiums in the sale ring over their native counterparts and finished cattle met precisely with the increasing demand for lean meat. Charolais was initially demonstrated at the Royal Welsh in 1971, before classes were successfully established."

A society member since 1978, Mr Lewis runs the Llandysul-based Penrhiw pedigree herd with his wife Helena and he has been to the fore in promoting Charolais ever since.

In addition to conducting auction sales for the South Wales Charolais Breeders' Club, he has held offices at many levels within the society including chairman and president before being elected Charolais International president in 2011.

He follows in the footsteps of Tom Jones, Parc Llangadfan, one of the breed pioneers in Wales and the only other Welshman to represent the UK in the position.

Mr Lewis said: "Fifty years on and Charolais remains the leading Continental beef terminal sire in the UK.

"New records continue to roll at Welshpool mart currently leading at 12,000gns and pounds 4,701 average, while 12-month-old Charolais crosses last year achieving a 10% premium in the UK store ring over all other Continental crosses, according to official data.

"This is simply because these fast-growing cattle and big carcass weights continue to ensure a premium price being obtained by both breeders and feeders alike."

In other news, the British Charolais Cattle Society will be welcoming to the UK more than 200 international delegates from 12 countries when it hosts the 37th World Charolais Congress led by Charolais International president Dai Lewis, who is also chairman of the congress organising committee.

The three-day tour to Wales will visit Arwel Owen's Trefaldwyn herd, Ty Newydd, Garthbeibio, Foel, Welshpool and Wil Owen's Criccieth based Deunawd herd comprising 25 pedigree Charolais cows and 100 suckler cows.

CAPTION(S):

* Dai Lewis, president of Charolais International, with his herd at Penrhiw Farm, Llandysul
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 5, 2012
Words:580
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