THE cattle champions at North Devon show have had statistical proof to back up their success in the ring.
Within a week of winning supreme at the show held at Umberleigh, Jeff and Lorraine Dunn's Highridge herd of British Blues was named most improved in the country for the breed this year.
The award came from the English Beef and Lamb Executive (Eblex), which based its decision on its Beef Better Returns programme.
The most-improved title goes to the recorded herd in each of 10 breeds that shows the greatest genetic gain for commercial characteristics over a 12-month period.
Eblex breeding services manager, Samuel Boon, said: "The Dunns are to be congratulated. Their achievement shows the genetic gains that can be achieved in relatively small herds – where elite genes can be accessed through the use of artificial insemination, producing bulls that can compete at the very highest level within the breed."
Lorraine Dunn said: "It's good because we're relatively new breeders with a small herd. It means we're heading in the right direction.
"We'd heard of the award but didn't know a lot about it until Eblex sent us a letter."
Eblex has given the couple a display board to take to shows and events explaining the achievement.
"This is our fourth year of good results in the show ring," said Lorraine. "And now we're showing our homebred animals."
The Dunns have two daughters who help out with the cattle. Freya, 6, washes the animals down before judging, and Chloe, 19, has shown remarkable handling skill in the ring.
For many years the couple used pedigree blue bulls on their large commercial suckler herd, before deciding to cut back on commercial cattle and spend more time developing a small herd of pedigree blues.
"The temperament and docility of the British Blues makes them a pleasure to work with," Lorraine said.