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Since 1894 when the family acquired the Estate pedigree beef cattle have always played an important part in the farming enterprise.
In 1969 the first pedigree Charolais bull was bought at the first public auction of Charolais cattle at the RHS showground and a small importation of Charolais heifers soon followed from France.
At present the farm is stocked with over ninety pedigree Charolais cows and in calf heifers and 150 commercial cross bred suckler cows. Because of a shortage of indoor space for all our commercial cows we have introduced a shorthorn bull to use on some of the cows to try and breed some hardy commercial replacement heifers that we can winter outside on the hill.
A portion of the commercial herd will still run with a Simmental bull so that we have a good choice of replacement heifers. The major part of the herd will run with carefully selected home grown Charolais bulls. Both pedigree and commercial herds are closed and all replacements are home bred. With our two new bull sheds now in full operation we will have about 40 bulls a year for sale at the national sales at Stirling and Carlisle and for sale privately.
The farm is a member of the High Health Scheme and both herds are BVD accredited. They are tested annually for Johnes and all bulls are tested for BVD, Lepto, and IBR and their dams confirmed free of Johnes before they are offered for sale.
For more than thirty years the cattle have been recorded under a Signet scheme to achieve breed improvement but with the encouragement of the Charolais Society this has been replaced with a much more informative and progressivescheme run from Australia by ABRI. This scheme is enabling us to achieve impressive breed improvement with particular emphasis on easy calving, well above breed average live weight gains, high milk yield in our cows, improving eye muscle area EBVs and scrotal circumference in the bulls, and rising retail yields.
With the best string of herd sires we have had in the last forty years now running with our cows, I have never been more optimistic that the herd will go from strength to strength and that we will continue to dominate the Society’s monthly list of promising young bulls in the national herd carrying the highest EBVs for the most important breeding traits.
We now run about seven hundred pure bred Lleyn ewes replacing the last of the old flock of Suffolk and Texel cross ewes.
A nucleus pedigree flock of recorded Lleyn ewes will be used for breeding all the flock replacements and to produce recorded pedigree tups which we will sell at Stirling and at Kelso.
The unrecorded portion of the Lleyn flock will run with Texel tups to produce the ideal prime lamb for today’s market and to offer for sale in the autumn, ewe lambs suitable for breeding in other commercial flocks.