Charlotte Boden, Bostock, Cheshire, certainly set a trend in 2006 when, aged just 23, she decided to breed top show British Blondes, a breed established in the UK more than 40 years ago.
Farming was nothing new to Charlotte, having worked alongside her parents from the age of nine when they moved to the family farm in Bostock, near Middlewich, and it was here she bought her foundation cow, Hackleton Aimee, the first of the Bostock Blondes.
Bitten by the bug, Charlotte started looking for a small farm of her own where she could build on the herd; she was fortunate enough to be offered the tenancy of nearby Bostock Green Farm by Henry Brooks of the Tatton Estate, who understood and supported Charlotte’s ambition to expand her herd.
Charlotte explains: “Henry gave me the chance to take Bostock Green Farm in 2008 and I began carefully line-breeding specific females in order to raise them to become one of the top show and breeding herds of British Blondes in the UK.”
Her first accolade was at the 2008 Royal Welsh Show, with Hackleton Aimee winning supreme Blonde. The following year, Aimee also won the Royal Show supreme Blonde and was crowned Royal Welsh supreme champion for the second year running. Aimee made it a hat-trick of Royal Welsh supreme Blonde wins in 2012, the same year Charlotte’s latest addition to the herd, Aaron Edoras, claimed male champion and reserve overall British Blonde.
Charlotte continues: “Having seen Aaron Edoras take junior championship at the 2010 Royal Welsh, I made the decision to buy Edoras from fellow breeder Nicholas Roger. I knew I needed to breed all my females to Edoras over the next three to four years to establish the correct uniformity and conformation I was looking for.”
It was with a real sense of pride Charlotte was able to exhibit her first home-bred cow at the Royal Welsh Show, Bostock Destiniee, daughter of Hackleton Aimee, who delighted the crowds by winning the 2013 supreme champion Blonde.
Charlotte now has evidence her decision to breed with Aaron Edoras was the right one as this year’s show team consists of Bostock Destiniee, with her Edoras daughter a foot, along with a two-year-old heifer and a yearling heifer, all out of Bostock Destiniee and sired by Edoras.
“For the first time, I have recently taken semen from Arron Edoras to sell on”, says Charlotte. “This all helps to support the herd along with the sale of my bulls which, because of their pedigree, reach an excellent price as they are bred from champions.
“In 2014, I decided to give myself two new challenges. The first was to enter the national Blonde herd competition, for which I was thrilled to be awarded champion small herd, and the second was to bring in another breed alongside the established Blonde herd.
“A new breed needs a new prefix and having seen the village of Bostock Green brought back to life with a new pub, children’s nursery and smithy operator since the Tatton Estate Management took over, I felt I wanted to support my community and firmly place the village on the map by introducing the Bostock Green herd of British Charolais.”
But there were more challenges ahead. In October 2014, she bought her first in-calf foundation heifer, Shraden Highlight, at a dispersal sale.
“As with the Blondes, my aim was to breed the best, but with any breeding programme it has to be a slow and calculated process.
“This led to my decision to try and enhance progress through the aid of flushing. After lengthy discussions with Mark Nutsford of Celltech Embryo Transfer, the decision was made to start flushing programmes and I have recently successfully flushed Bostock Destiniee to Aaron Edoras, enabling me to store embryos for a future-breeding programme, or to sell on.
Charlotte is extremely dedicated to ensuring her ‘girls’ meet show expectations and thoroughly enjoys the challenges this brings.
This would be work enough for most, but alongside managing her herd she also holds down another job as senior technical manager for APS Group.
Charlotte initially joined Cymru Country feeds after completing three years of study for an HND in business marketing and management for the food industry at Harper Adams University, moving to work with APS Salads five years later. On top of this, she is also chairman of the North West and North Wales Blonde Club (NWNW Blondes), saying there are sometimes not enough hours in a day.
“But this is what I love. I’ve never met anyone raised on a farm without plenty of energy.”
And what does she think the future holds for her herds?
“Nobody knows, but with careful selection of line breeding, an eye for detail and the ability to mate the right sire to the right female, I hope to carry on and continue increasing the success I have already achieved.”
Q. You would be surprised to find out:
A. I used to be a lifeguard
Q. I never leave home without:
A. My wellies
Q. My ritual before competing:
A. Spray a dusting of glitter on the cows just before we go out
Q. The words I live by are:
A. Follow your dreams as they are the hopes of the future