Wednesday 15 January 2020
After an active year as vice-president, Mark Roberts of the Herefordshire-based Bromley herd has been elected as president of the society.
Running his own successful mixed farming business, Mark has lived at Bromley Court, Hoarwithy, Herefordshire all his life after returning from studying for a degree in economics and agricultural economics in 1981 at Nottingham.
His connection with the breed started when his father had kept a herd of 80 British Polled Hereford cows. This strain, developed from a one-off outcross with a Galloway in the 1950s, were very sought after for suckler and dairy herds in the 1970s but failed to get international recognition and were somewhat marginalised by the 1980s. Growing up with these cattle led him to an admiration for large herds of hardy, unpampered, naturally athletic and dark coated cattle. These are still the type Mark likes and has tried to breed since restarting a poll herd in 2005.
Through Mark and wife Maddy’s years of farming, they have expanded the area of cropping, taking out short term leys, moved from potato growing to cider fruit orcharding and also began a poultry rearing enterprise in 1995. They originally reared turkeys, which did well during the BSE turmoil years, but turned the housing over to broiler chickens in 2007 where they grow about 140,000 at a time. Mark describes Bromley as having plenty of banky permanent pastures crossed by streams for stock farming, alongside sandy arable land for cropping.
In 2005 he re-introduced pedigree Herefords to the farm. He bought foundation females from Gerald Blandford, Ernie Colledge and Pete Cobley as well as from Lowerhope, Ford Abbey and Solpoll. Most of these cattle carried a fair amount of Costhorpe bloodlines, which he had always admired for their consistent quality.
Bit by bit, Mark got sucked into greater involvement with the breed. He has sat on council since 2015 and has been chairman of the local area association for the last two years.
Mark showed great diplomacy in his role in vice-presiudent. He has been a great support to chairman and friend Phil Allman as he has learnt the ropes of his role, who describes Mark as an incredibly decent and humble person with enormous integrity.
Mark said: “I am proud of what has been achieved by others in the breed over the last 10 years. Breeders have developed a type of cattle which are commercially viable, strong and competitive.
“The council has faced up to, and is addressing the need to, promote our breed and its qualities to increase market share and premium value. I am excited to be involved in this modernised approach that our breed secretary and council are shaping and to help to strengthen the Society moving forward.
“I don’t see myself as a top breeder but will try to use my position and opportunity to explain the council’s aims and decisions as I travel and meet breeders through this year”.
Representing UK Hereford breeders at the World Hereford Conference in New Zealand will be an honour and a responsibility which Mark says he will take seriously.
He adds: “No doubt the travelling this year will be gruelling, but I hope that wherever I go with a friendly and approachable attitude, much can be achieved.”