Vikki Wood of Popes Simmentals tells Farmers Guardian what she looks for when judging pedigree beef classes.
Situated in the Red Rose county of Lancashire, the Popes Simmental herd has become a force to be reckoned with on the pedigree show circuit. Established in 1988 by Vikki and Jimmy Wood, the 120-strong herd, is co-run with son Harry and daughter Hannah, over a total of 400 acres (162h) at Popes Farm, Dutton, Preston, and Deer House Farm, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe.
As well as breeding for showring success, the family are keen to produce stock for the commercial market, and continue to develop their own expanding meat wholesaler’s business, Bowlands foods.
With a longstanding history of breeding and show achievements, Vikki is also a renowned breed judge, having tapped out champions at some of the country’s most prestigious shows.
Corskie Gingersnap - 2-year-old senior
SIRE: Bel Dhu Capercaillie
DAM: Corskie Winola
Popes Handsome - 10-month-old junior
SIRE: Kilbride Farm Comber
DAM: Popes Nellys Blackbird
Last year, Wood had the task of sorting the Simmental line-ups at the October segment of Stirling bull sales, choosing the January 2015-born bull Corskie Gingersnap, bred by the Green family, Moray, as her supreme champion.
Vikki later backed her decision by taking home the prized bull for a trade topping 25,000gns. By the 45,000gn record price Bel Dhu Capercaillie, out of Corskie Winola, Vikki had seen Gingersnap claim the junior beef inter-breed honours at last years’ Royal Highland Show, and knew he would be an asset to their breeding herd.
Vikki says: “We were on the hunt for a new addition to run alongside our current stock bulls Kilbride Farm Comber purchased for 20,000gns at Stirling in 2011 and Pope Fearless a homebred bull who was part of the winning interbreed pairs at the Great Yorkshire and the Royal Welsh in 2016. Gingersnap is everything I look for in the breed, and his figures matched up with what we were wanting. I am excited to see what he brings to the females here at Popes.”
Vikki notes that all breeders will have different opinions on what they personally look for in a bull, but advises commercial buyers to look at what characteristics are missing in the female group and go from there.
She continues: “there are always aspects of the cows and heifers which can be improved, so look for a potential bull that can balance out these traits. Prior to a sale, I like to go back in the pedigree and check the breeding and then have a look at the EBV, then I have a select few I want to look at. Request the bull to be stood out of the pen, and ask all the necessary questions about health. It is also important to see if the bull is good on its feet, as they need good locomotion in order to serve efficiently. Finally buy the best bull you can afford.”