Toplines and tales

Podcast about all things to do with livestock showing, past and present, including interviews, discussions and general chitchat.

Every day is school day and this week’s guest, Lee Leachman, who produces 2,500 bulls per year really is someone to learn from. As a grandson of the great Lee Leachman, who along with his brother dominated the Angus world in for 3 decades, Lee’s business has moved on powered by genetic evaluation that derived the composite Stabilizer animal that Leachman Cattle company own the trademark to, now being used all over the world. A must listen for the serious cattle breeder particular to understand how composite breeding works and is shaping the future.

‘If you treat your cows as a religion, you’re doing it wrong!’ says Chip Kemp, our highly experienced and entertaining ‘character in livestock’ this week. In his role with the Simmental Association in US, Chip has a massive insight into the beef industry and how it is rapidly evolving across the world, not just the business but the function of the breed association itself. Their IGS database globally evaluates 20 million cattle across all breeds, making it the biggest and most accurate tool in the industry. We move on to discuss hybrid and composite breeding, in what I think is one of the most eye-opening episodes to date, and possibly a glimpse into the future.

In an unusual episode this week we speak to Gavin Frankin about his farming set-up in France. Originating from Zimbabwe he speaks of his times there and the horrific story of how they were made to leave their farms at gun point. Gavin has now carved out a family lifestyle business farming sheep and we discuss the comparisons with UK before moving on to his butchery business. 

This week we honour our regular contributor , Dr Bob Hough who has just won a highly prestigious award. From his early days in FFA through to learning judging skills from the great Herman Purdy and the importance of giving reasons. Bob went on to be a judging team coach before he eventually would up as CEO of the Red Angus Association, taking it to the fourth biggest breed in US. Finally we chat about his passion for history and his work as an author.


This week a real character, Jimmy Warnock, tells us about his involvement with the original imports of Texel sheep into UK and the early rules that were brought in to control it. As well as his own successes including the great show ewe Lady Madonna, Jimmy explains the justification of the extreme high prices of some sheep today. We move on to cover his exploits judging sheep abroad. With another hat on, Jimmy has done wonderful work educating children and non-farming folk in the ways of agriculture which has in turn won him the award of an MBE.

Julie is one of life's great organisers and she tells us this week how she balances the many rolls she fulfils within the industry with a busy farm at home. Always around at the shows her smiling face and hard work has been recognised by many, including the industry itself. We also get to hear about the Beef Expo event at which she is in charge of the live cattle show. 

One of the most respected stockmen, breeder and judges in UK, Danny Wyllie tells us of his early days as shepherd for Robert Graham at Airthrey Kerse and the buzz around the Rouge de L'Ouest breed. A move south to work with Charolais cattle evolved into a farm tenancy and dabble with his own Charolais before setting up the Tamhorn herd of Belgian Blues for which he and Jane will be mostly recognised. Now with a herd of Shorthorns, Danny is one of the most qualified interbreed judges in the country.   

Well known character and top sheep breeder, Dye Clark, discusses the 3 Texel flocks he and his brothers run, as well as some experimenting with crossbred ewes currently going on. He lists some of the most influential tups in that breed before moving on to his dabble with Blonde cattle and eventually to the Shorthorn herd he has today. Then we get on to another of Dye’s passions, the sheep shearing competitions and some of his younger antics before he got promoted to commentator.

Not just a character in Livestock this week but more of a legend. Alec Ogg was one of the rare breed that progressed from master stockman to master breeder in the Angus cattle world. As well as bringing out bulls for many top herds, he won Perth with his own stock on numerous occasion. However, he will perhaps be mostly remembered for achieving one of the greatest international honours in history, one that doubtfully will ever be repeated, by bringing out the ‘triple crown’ winner on three continents in one year.

A highly enjoyable episode chatting to an old friend Lionel Organ who has excelled in everything he bred. For all he will be known as top sheep breeder this interview also gives a fascinating insight into the world of breeding pigs, where Southam would become one of the top herds of Large Whites in Europe. He tells of the challenges that posed and more importantly the lessons we could learn from carcass development. Then followed the sheep when Lionel again reached the pinnacle of two breeds, Charollais and Lleyn, the former being dispersed 12 years ago, yet still the Southam prefix underpins many top flocks today. We hear about the merits of the Lleyn with which he is still very much involved and is both passionate and proud of where the breed is today. 

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