NBA Beef Expo Young Farmer Focus Charolais – Sean Mitchell

18th March 2024

Sean Mitchell from Grassknop Farm near Skelton in Cumbria is a progressive young Charolais breeder and a member of the British Charolais Cattle Society. Aged 23, he works at home on the farm alongside his father Alistair, and also operates his own cattle clipping preparation service for show sales and showing.

Afte leaving school, Sean completed his agricultural apprenticeship at Newton Rigg college alongside working for Jonathan Watson at Bowsden Moor, near Berwick-Upon-Tweed, gaining invaluable experiences of the livestock sector and helping with the noted Tweeddale pedigree Charolais.

Sean is keen on breeding pedigree livestock and has established as part of his livestock enterprise, which also includes some Limousin cattle, 25 sheep and his herd of pedigree Charolais, seven cows and followers under the Huttonend prefix.

For breeding Sean uses AI, “I cannot justify my own bull at the moment, and having a dairy herd here at home using AI just fits in with our system. When choosing genetic traits, first and foremost it has to be a bull I like the look of, one which I think will breed good cows and bulls, so I also look at its progeny. For many breeders EBV’s are important and although I take note of this information what forms my overall decision it its appearance, its style, presence, power and shape. I just want to breed a quality calf that will both grow well and sell well.

He tells us why he has a particular preference for Charolais: “I have always been interested in the Charolais breed, it is their presence and style when they walk in a ring, they really are flashier than anything else. For me, it takes a lot to beat a Charolais.”

Huttonend was established in 2014 when Sean and his mum bought their first in-calf heifer, Edenhurst Indigo, for 4,000gns at Peter Vasey’s dispersal sale in 2015. Today the herd’s seven cows will have an average weight of 1000 kilos, “and this is my idea of what a Charolais cow is meant to be, as it will then support easy calving, something which is very important.” Says Sean.

Sean keeps his heifers, as he is aiming for a herd of 10 select cows, and in selling bulls he is already seeing success and speaking of his biggest achievements to date he explains “Winning the Overall Champion and Female Champion at the Royal Welsh Championships in 2023, with Harestone Rapunzel was a fantastic achievement. This three year old heifer was purchased as an in-calf two year old heifer, from R & N Barclay’s Harsetone herd in Aberdeenshire.”

Sean’s first bull was sold at Stirling in 2018; the bull won its class and made £4500, in 2020 he sold another at Stirling for £6500, and the following year (2021) one at £8500.  “For a young person starting out I was delighted to do so well, and everyone I have sold to have kept in touch with me, they are happy with their purchases and the bulls are doing well.”

“The biggest challenge as a young farmer and breeder is just trying to get into farming, we are the next generation for the farming industry and as young farmers we need to be supported and incentivised at all levels both financially and mentally, to get our feet on to the first rungs of the farming ladder.”

“The most important lesson I have learnt is that not everything comes at once, to be successful it takes time, dedication, and effort, I can see this through all of my business. Every day is a learning day.”

“I have been supported by many during my livestock career journey to date; one of the men who started me out with my clipping was Mark Phillips from Castle Douglas and I would like to thank Jonathan Watson, because without spending time at Bowsden and working with the Tweeddale herds I could not have progressed as I have, and of course my parents for their support.”

Sean will be at the NBA Beef Expo 2024, and although not in the show ring, he will be helping to clip and prepare as part of the business services he offers.