It’s been a year to remember for Tom and Di Harrison and their Moralee Herefords with trophies and awards coming thick and fast.

Their herd has just been picked as the best of its kind in the country – a massive achievement for a venture that started out as a hobby less than a decade ago.

“We started it at a time when we wanted to do something alongside our jobs,” recalled Tom. “At that time I was very much involved with the county show and it was just to have something to show.”

The family farm at Mickley Square, run by Tom’s dad Arnold, had been stocked with Continentals, but Tom and Di decided to opt for a native breed when they took over the reins.

“What started as a hobby turned into an obsession or business, or both,” said Tom.

“We liked the docility of them so me and Di could handle them alongside our jobs. They are amazing to work with.

“That was the first reason. The second benefit is their ability to convert grass into meat and the fact they are much less selective. They do it on a forage-based diet. We have got some steers that have just come in, but there’s literally zero concentrate.”

After two or three years, the Harrisons linked up with a local butcher and started a private box scheme, offering beef to friends and family – a scheme which has grown by word of mouth ever since.

“That side of the business was not an avenue we intended to go into, but it is a big part of the business now,” said Tom.

“And it is a privilege to provide people with a product that they are enjoying.”

But it is the showing of their cattle that has put Moralee in the national limelight. Tom and Di started on the familiar grounds of Northumberland County Show when they put two heifers in the ring which got a second prize.

Jump forward to the present day and at the National Hereford Awards, the Moralee herd has just been named the best in the country.

“For each individual animal you show during the year you get points for it, but the animal only counts once so it is about the whole herd,” explained Tom.

“It is about having a herd of good quality cattle to present at all these shows because they only count once.”

Tom and Di returned home with not one, but three trophies following the awards night. Danish bull, SMH Kingsize was named sire of the year and their home-bred bull, Moralee 1 Rebel Kicks was named joint polled bull of the year.

Rebel Kicks is no stranger to awards though. We was male champion at Northumberland County Show and the Royal Welsh Show this year and won his class at the Royal Highland Show. He was also male champion at the Hereford National Polled Show at Moreton-in-Marsh where Moralee 1 Kylie was junior champion.

Tom and Di also had eight cattle placed in the top three of their class at this month’s Agri-Expo and at the recent Stars of the Future show at Stirling, Moralee 1 Katie Perry was junior female champion and reserve junior interbreed, while Moralee 1 Kylie was reserve senior female. They couldn’t do all this without the support of Arnold though who still looks after the farm when Tom and Di are away.

The Harrisons are also giving their support to the equivalent of the Olympics for Herefords – the Herefords World Conference ­– which takes place in New Zealand next March, after being approached for sponsorship by the UK Hereford youth team.

As a result, at the Designer Genes Sale taking place in Shrewsbury on December 14 where Tom and Di are selling three heifers, Lucy, Joleen and Lily, half the proceeds from the sale of Lucy will go towards the team.

“The other half will go into a restrictive fund going forward to use next year and hopefully this will set a precedent there for someone else to put in a heifer,” said Tom.

“I am pleased we were asked to do it and I am pleased we were able to do it.

“The last couple of years we have had a good run and every year we say it could not get better than this, but it does,” he added. “We have made so many friends through the showing world and enjoy it so much together.”