Gentons was established by Bertrand (Bertie) Facon on the grounds of Lessor Farm in Milcombe, near Banbury. The Gentons name originates from a farm in South-East France on which Bertie was born and developed his interest in farming.
Lessor Farm and the surrounding 40 acres were purchased in 1998 and with a further 12 subsequent purchases of land. The farm has since grown to 350 acres of permanent pasture, wood and marshland. Gentons manages its carbon footprint with the help of this carbon footprint calculator, with the aim of being as close to neutral as possible.
Having spent a year looking at many breeds, 2011 saw Bertie decide upon the English Longhorn as the breed of choice having been attracted by the breed’s robust characteristics and ease of calving.
In 2016, Bertie teamed up with stockman Ben Bellew who brought with him extensive experience in showing pedigree beef cattle and in setting up focused breeding programs with the use of embryo transfer.
In order to maximise the herd’s efficiency, herd health is of vital importance to Bertie and Ben and as a member of the SAC High Health scheme, the herd is annually blood tested.
Sadly in 2016 Lessor Farm came down with bovine TB. Much has been learned from that experience and today the farm observes the strictest biosecurity measures. Cattle are enclosed within a 3.5km specialised Tornado wire badger proof fence with additional electric wire and concreted gate ways.
Currently, Gentons Longhorns comprises of 40 cows. The herd enjoys a diverse set of bloodlines coming from Blackbrook, Fishwick, Southfiled and Gorse.
Quality heifers and young bulls with high health status are regularly available for sale, both privately and at society sales. Embryos and semen are available for both domestic and export markets.
Painters Farm, located five miles from Lessor Farm, was acquired in 2014. For the first few years it was home to a herd of Salers crosses, which highlighted the easing calving characteristics of the breed.
In 2018, the pedigree Gentons Salers herd was established at Painters Farm and a 2km badger fence was erected as a first step to remain free of Bovine TB. The Salers crosses were replaced with Danish Red recipients imported from Denmark and a few pedigree animals. Various embryos were imported from France, some of which were implanted in the spring of 2019. The first ET calves were born in 2020 and already show great potential.
During the summer of 2019, trips to Scotland resulted in the acquisitions of 20 animals from the Bacardi, Cleuchhead and Cumbrian herds. A subsequent trip to Auvergne, France, resulted in the acquisition of a further 20 females from Gaec Yves Fourtet, Phialip, D’Enroussou and Gane in Auvergne, France. While visiting the Concours National Salers at Aurillac the team fell in love with Murphy, a son of Halley, who became overall breed champion the next day. Having been fortunate to secure him as the herd’s stock bull, he is today the main feature of Painters Farm.
Alongside the horned individuals in the herd, polled genetics already play an important role within the herd. The origin of the poll animals in the herd goes back to both the Scottish and Canadian Full Blood lines and it is intended to develop the poll side of the herd slowly alongside the main horned part of the herd.
1998 – Purchase of Lessor Farm.
2005 – First female cattle purchased privately from the Rousham herd and Worcester Sales, as well as the purchase of Blackbrook Rochester as the herd’s first stock bull.
2015 – Gentons 007 James Bond was named Bull of the Year (co-owned with Joshua and John Briggs).
2016 – Ben Bellew joined Lessor Farm.
Successful showing season with Gentons Pecrette and Gentons Pacita. Gentons Polo took the breed championship at the Worcester Autumn sales.
Successful first embryo program with Fishwick Natalie and Blackbrook Sonnet, resulting in 21 embryos being collected.
Badger fence enclosure is erected.
Gentons Pyrite stood champion at Moreton In the Marsh Show having been sold to the Gorse herd.
2017 – Second embryo program with Blackbrook Vera resulting in three embryos, one of which being Gentons Sara ET.
2018 – Grand Slam for the Gentons herd, winning all three “Bull/Cow/Heifer of the Year” Longhorn Society Competitions
2019 – Gentons Sara ET, the first embryo calf showed in the UK is crowed “Junior Heifer of the Year” with multiple interbreed success.
2019 – The result from the herd ADHP Linear Assessment returned unmatched results with 14 cows ranked Excellent. Gorse Quesnelia and Barlings Letty break the breed record for a female with EX95 rating. Gentons Qiana breaks the First Calf Heifer record with VG89.
2018 – The Gentons Salers herd was established with top lines from the UK.
Badger fence erected at Painters farm
Purchased two foundation females from the Seawell herd
2019 – Purchased 13 quality females in Scotland.
Two sets of embryos were imported from France.
We travelled to France to visit the Concours National Salers show in Aurillac, which resulted in purchasing our stock bull Murphy who stood Grand Champion at the show. We also purchased 17 females, along with Murphy, the National Breed champion.
2020 – The much expected birth of some of our imported embryos; Gentons Pablo ET, Gentons Pasha ET, Gentons Phuket ET and Gentons Peponi ET.
Purchased Diane from Gaec Missiel who will remain in France as part of our flushing programme.
The love of farming has been in Ben’s blood since growing up on his Grandad’s beef and sheep farm in Warwickshire, spending most weekends and school holidays watching and copying his every move.
When Ben was in his last year of school, his Grandad at age 77 decided to retire from the farm and move closer to the village. Ben then decided to take his love of farming up a level by enrolling at Moreton Morrell Agricultural College in Warwickshire to study a National Diploma in Agriculture.
During his studies, Ben worked part time at a local dairy farm to fund his social life and gain experience in different farming enterprises. After finishing his course, Ben started working full time at the same farm where he worked for two years before moving to a beef herd.
Ben moved to Buckinghamshire in 2009 when he started working for Doug Mash and his Brockhurst pedigree Limousin herd. Doug has built up a great reputation within the breed having won many show titles and for investing heavily in quality blood lines for his herd.
The herd was incredibly successful in the show ring during Ben’s time there with a few of the herd’s major successes listed below.
Ben’s last show and sale for the herd was in December 2016 at the Red Ladies sale in Carlisle. Having secured the championship with Brockhurst Howzat she went on to sell for 24,000gns which was a record price for the herd.
Having decided to move to the Cotswolds to be closer to family and friends Ben was on the lookout for a new challenge. After talking to a fellow stockman, Ben was informed of a potential job opportunity close to him around Banbury.
Ben met with Bertie and visited both Lessor and Painters Farms and from the beginning it was clear to see the amount of potential with both holdings. Ben decided to take the job and began working for Gentons Pedigree Livestock in January 2016.