February 10, 2017 British Charolais Cattle Society appoints Peter Phythian chief executive
Peter brings 35 years of experience of working throughout the food chain – from grass roots to retail. He moves to the post from Eurofins where, as business manager he worked with the global company’s feed analysis, genomics, food legal advice and BRC audit divisions.
He began his career on the family’s Lancashire farm managing both pedigree Charolais and commercial cattle. After graduating with a diploma in agriculture, Peter worked with the Meat and Livestock Commission and the European Food Safety Inspection Services before being appointed MLC Commercial Services’ chief executive. He is a member of the Meat Innovation Group and in his spare time likes to watch Wigan Warriors Rugby League.
Peter commented, “I am delighted and honoured to be joining the British Charolais Cattle Society and I’m very much looking forward to meeting members and working with all members up and down the beef chain – breeders, commercial farmers, auction marts, processors and retailers, and to subsequently making a positive difference.”
BCCS chairman, Andrew Hornall commented: “David Benson has constantly demonstrated his unwavering commitment to professional excellence and to development of the Society over a period spanning almost three decades. It’s that solid foundation which David’s vision has forged combined with Peter’s leadership skills which I am confident will take the Society on to the next chapter. Peter has experience and expertise that will enable us to meet the industry’s ever evolving challenges and embark upon a very exciting new phase of our journey of growth and increasing brand awareness.”
February 10, 2017 CHAROLAIS – KING OF THE TERMINAL SIRES
The suckler system at Wester Rarichie featuring Stabilisers and Charolais was recently highlighted when hosting a workshop entitled ‘Profitable Breeding for the Future’ by SRUC.
The event was held at Wester Rarichie, Fearn, Ross-shire in the Scottish Highlands where Stewart Whiteford of JM Whiteford & Co played host to over 80 interested farmers.
He admitted that getting cows to be profitable without BPS is hard work but he is heading in the right direction. The key to this he says is herd health, genetics and quality of feed.
His simplified system uses three breeds, Stabilisers and Aberdeen Angus, criss-crossed to produce replacement cows and the Charolais as terminal sire.
With the aim of making the herd more easily managed, more cost-efficient and to utilise land that was not suitable for cropping, Mr Whiteford decided to ‘downsize’ from predominantly Belgian Blue cows 10 years ago and move to Stabilisers, which he considers to be the ideal suckler cow.
“The Stabiliser has proven dam lines, are not too heavy weight and you can get bigger calves out of these smaller cows.” he says. “The cows are very consistent and produce calves that are like peas in a pod, up to pens of 14.”
For his terminal sire, Mr Whiteford has been using Charolais for nearly 40 years which in his words is ‘the king of terminal sires’. He was firstly attracted by their fantastic length and has been buying his Charolais bulls from the same breeder since the early 1980’s, looking for bulls which are easily fleshed.
He has bought privately for quite a number of years now, preferring to see them naturally grown and ‘field ready’, not over pampered. Bulls are the only animals brought into the herd which is accredited for BVD.
The herd of 190 cows calve in the summer starting on June 1st and in this last calving, assistance was given to just six cows. Heifers are calved at two years of age. Cows are kept for 10 calvings with their first, second and last to the Stabiliser and Angus bulls to produce replacements which are now hefted to the farm.
After their second calving, they run with the Charolais for 12 weeks, being fed 1kg cobs/head/day over the bulling period from August until early October, followed by draff fed on the field for the following six weeks.
These cows in the herd which have run with Charolais bulls are out wintered on a hard standing area with a building for shelter, having come off grass in November according to weather conditions. They are fed on ad lib silage and have access to straw from the bedding in the shed.
The first and second calvers and the oldest cows are housed throughout the winter period. The herd aims for a moderate size cow (under 700kg) and rearing percentage in 2015 was 95% which was helped by several sets of twins.
From a health point of view, Mr Whiteford prefers that stock is outdoor on grass wherever possible, rather than housed which also adds to the simplicity interwoven in his system.
“It’s a very simple system to run, taking one person 50 minutes to feed the cattle, dropping one round bale to every 20 cows.”
In September, calves are introduced to a creep ration of dark grains, barley and a mineral/vitamin supplement. They are weaned in March and sold through the live ring at Dingwall at 12 months of age, with 120 steers and heifers averaging 420kg and £1000 over the last two years.
He states that the high health status of the herd underpins its performance. He puts his money where his mouth is, giving his weaned calves a pre-sale treatment of respiratory vaccines and wormers plus an information package of sire, EBVs and feeding regimes.
Mr Whiteford works closely with his local vet on the herd health plan and says that the money he spends on vaccines is worth it. Stock is weighed, primarily for the purpose of ensuring correct dosage of vaccines. “My eye and the health programme is my guide to performance.”
In 2015, 44 Charolais x bullocks averaged £1148.75 (276p/kg), 38 Charolais x heifers averaged £959.86 (254p/kg), 21 Aberdeen Angus x bullocks averaged £1045.71 (254p/kg) and 14 Stabiliser x bullocks averaged £1045.71 (250p/kg).
Prices were down 20p/kg across the board in 2016 but with a tighter calving and better performance, weights were up an average of 20kg per head, a 5% increase.
Most of the calves are repeat purchases, with the majority of them finding homes in Aberdeenshire. “I don’t push the calves so it gives the finisher plenty of scope to finish them as they wish, fast or slow, feed intensively or graze them. The frame is there for them to work on.”
“You can see why the Charolais x heifer is becoming even more popular, with the ability to finish it at 400kg yet a good finisher will still be able to meet the weight targets with Charolais x bullocks.”
February 9, 2017 Welshpool Charolais sell to 5,500gns
Charolais bulls met a strong commercial demand at Welshpool on Thursday 9 February, topping at 5,500gns with 18 bulls selling at an average of £3675 – up £225 on the year.
Topping the lots and securing a price of 5,500gns from Mr HT Jones, Cardigan, Ceredigion, was the 16-month-old Trefaldwyn Laird who was the first of four of the top lots to be sired by the renowned easy calving and short gestation bull Blelack Digger. Laird who is out of the home-bred dam Trefaldwyn Brilliant going back to the 25,000gns Perth supreme champion Mowbraypark Orlando, was bred and exhibited by Arwel Owen, Welshpool, Powys.
Earlier in the day Mr Owen sold the 17-month-old Trefaldwyn Leader, another Digger son this time out of the 10,000gns Trefaldwyn Usk daughter Trefaldwyn Dream. He was knocked down at 4,200gns to DLG Price and Co, Llandiloes, Powys.
The second highest price of the day of 5,400gns was secured by Messrs Boden and Davies, Mellor Cheshire for their blue ticket winner and February-2015-born Sportsmans Luthur, a son of the 70,000gns Royal Welsh supreme champion Barnsford Ferny and a homebred dam going back to the 55,000gns Perth intermediate champion Thrunton Voldemort, who took the fancy of Carl Thomas, Montgomery, Powys.
Flintshire vet Esmor Evans was also in the money with bulls making 5,000gns and 4,400gns respectively. His highest priced was purchased by DG and E Williams, Welshpool, Powys was the 15-month-old Digger son Maerdy Lofty, who was tapped out first in his class earlier in the day. Then moments later Maerdy Lleuad sired by the Royal Welsh supreme champion Maerdy Ulm was snapped up by RI and G Davies, Wells, Powys.
Commanding a 4,200gns bid from TW Jones and Son, Knighton, Powys was Caylers Lennox, another sired by Digger. This November-2015-born lad was bred and exhibited by Caylers Charolais, Nuthampstead, Hertfordshire.
The Caylers team went on to sell Caylers Longbow, a 15-month-old son of the 10,000gns Thrunton Goldeneye and Caylers Ballerina, a daughter of Doonally New. KR Williams, Camborne, Cornwall liked the look of Longbow and purchased him for 3,800gns.
Next at 4,000gns was the 21-month-old Moelfre Liam who was placed second in his class at the Royal Welsh Show last year. Kevin Thomas, Castlenewydd Emlyn, Carmarthenshire was the breeder of this Goldies Eddy son who goes on to work at Welshpool, Powys for Tirnewydd Farms.
Making 3,200gns was a lot exhibited by Wyn Rees, Llandiloes, Powys. The May-2015-born Hendy Logic sired by Sandelford Gucci went home with GW Roberts, Criccieth, Gwynedd.
Another to bring 3,200gns when chapped down to RH Phillips and Co, Claines, Worcestershire, was Killerton Lawyer. The 20-month-old Lawyer was crowned 2016 Beef South West young continental bull of the year for breeder and exhibitor Patrick Greed, Exeter, Devon and is sired by Alwent Goldbar.
Just behind at 3,000gns was Wissington Lemonade consigned by John and Jenny Rix, Nayland, Essex. The man behind the money on this September-2015 born, Thrunton Hammerstein son was BM Robinson Jnr, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire.
Averages: 18 bulls £3675, 1 Female £1,050
Auctioneers: Welshpool Livestock Sales
Thursday 9 February 2017
Judge: Mr Steve Hookway, Newent, Gloucestershire
Class One – Bulls born on or between 17/02/2015 – 05/04/2015
1st – JD Leavesley – Newroddige Laird – s. Esgob Ferrari
2nd – Boden & Davies Ltd – Sportsmans Luthur – s. Barnsford Ferny
3rd – William Owen – Deunawd Lotus – s. Kiltybane Highflyer
4th – Esmor Evans – Maerdy Lester – s. Falleninch Bodelavie
Class Two – Bulls born on or between 25/04/2015 – 10/07/2015
1st – Highfields Park Farm – Chameran Logan – s. Thrunton Fairfax
2nd – Patrick Greed – Killerton Lawyer – s. Alwent Goldbar
3rd – JAW Rees – Hendy Logic – s. Sandelford Gucci
4th – Boden & Davies Ltd – Sportsmans Lezard – s. Barnsford Ferny
Class Three – Bulls born on or between 20/07/2015 – 28/08/2015
1st – Esmor Evans – Maerdy Larpy – s. Maerdy Dynamite
2nd – William Owen – Deunawd Luis – s. Kiltybane Highflyer
3rd – Jenny and John Rix – Wissington Logan – s. Wissington Highflyer
4th – Arwel Owen – Trefaldwyn Leader – s. Blelack Digger
Class Four – Bulls born on or after 04/09/2015
1st – Esmor Evans – Maerdy Lofty – s. Blelack Digger
2nd – Caylers Charolais – Caylers Longbow – s. Thrunton Goldeneye
3rd – Jenny and John Rix – Wissington Lemonade – s. Thrunton Hammerstein
4th – Caylers Charolais – Caylers Lennox – s. Blelack Digger
Class Five – Females
1st – Esmor Evans – Maerdy Jasmine – s. Maerdy Dynamite
2nd – Kevin Thomas – Moelfre Liana – s. Anside Foreman
3rd – Esmor Evans – Maerdy Joyance – s. Maerdy Dynamite
JD Leavesley – Newroddige Laird – s. Esgob Ferrari
Highfields Park Farm – Chameran Logan – s. Thrunton Fairfax
February 1, 2017 Northern Ireland Sweep the Board at the Charolais Youth National Stockjudging Final
52 finalists from throughout the UK came to the Livestock Event at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham on Wednesday 6 July to compete in the Charolais Youth Stock Judging Final as part of the annual National Charolais Show.
The Northern Ireland region came out on top when they secured first place in each of the age groups as well as claiming the Fairway Trophy for the highest scoring team. They started with the senior 19 to 26 year old section where Kevin Reavey was the winner of the Gretnahouse Pepetual Trophy. Then along with his team-mate Eimear McGovern, they claimed the Fairway Perpetual Trophy for winning the pair’s competition with a total of 272 points. This is the second time that 20 year old Eimear has lifted the trophy having previous shared the honour with her sister in 2014.
A delighted Kevin who is currently studying for his property degree to qualify as a chartered surveyor also works at Hilltown Auctioneers two days a week as his goal is to become a livestock auctioneer. In addition he works on the family farm where his dad established their Charolais herd in 2010. He will be travelling to Moulins, France in November for the French National Final of the Charolais Show as part of his prize along with fellow competitor Edward Robinson, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire who was a close second him with 140 points.
Taking top spot in the intermediate 15 to 18 year old section and winning the Alwent Perpetual Trophy was the 18 year old Bartley Finnegan, Dungannon, Co Tyrone who had the top score of the day with 148 points. Runner up on 139 points was Andrew Adam from Scotland followed by George Hollinshead from the North Midlands who scored 138.
The junior eight to 14 year old section winner and taking home the Cockerington Perpetual trophy was 13 year old Erin Quigley, Macken, Co. Fermanagh with 137 points. Oliver Robinson, Towcester, Northamptonshire came a close second with a score of 134 and last year’s winner Hannah Knox from Colchester, Essex stood third with 132.
Master judge Arwel Owen said: “The competitors are a credit to their regions and I was impressed to see such a fantastic turnout. Charolais Youth has gone from strength to strength in the past few years as the Society invests more time and energy into the future of their young stock people and it is very pleasing to see such keen competitors coming from far and wide”.
January 26, 2017 Farm Feature – Alan Meston, Chapelton
Spinning plates comes to mind when you visit at the finishing operation run by Alan Meston at Chapelton Farm, Stonehaven just south of Aberdeen where last year, he finished 2600 bullocks and 200 heifers including 1400 head of Charolais.
Despite the volumes that go through the farm, Alan has the figures at his fingertips, quoting the 2016 averages as 224 kg weight gain in 168 days, with an average of 70 days grazing (allowing 1kg gain/day on grass). The aim is for cattle to gain 160kgs in 100 days on his finishing ration.
“Five to six years ago, it was all short term finishing and I would have had 8-900 cattle on the farm at any one time, kept for around 100 days to put on 140kgs.” says Mr Meston.
“With the change in system and now keeping a mix of growing and finishing cattle, the most I have put through in a 12 month period is 2800, keeping around 1200-1400 on the farm at any one time.
I graze 700-800, mainly Charolais because I think they do best at grass. You can get Charolais finishing at 16-20 months – this is where the breed has the big advantage. You want weight for age, nothing will beat them.”
Mr Meston purchased the farm from his late father back in 2002 and has pushed numbers since then, at one stage taking them from 500 up to 1400 over a two year period. A new steading with two sheds was built in 2009 and since then a further shed added and some have been extended. Two additional buildings are rented at a neighbouring farm.
Chapelton itself has 310 acres with a further 115 acres of rented seasonal grazing rented. A total of 260 acres of grass isare grazed and Alan realises the significant feeding value of grass, keeping it up to four years then reseeding.
“Buying growing cattle lets me spread my risk. It lets me better utilise the grass and make the best use of my intensive finishing.” he says.
Cattle are purchased from January to October with an average of 1200 on the farm at any one time, peaking at 1450. Alan purchases at Stirling, Thainstone, Huntly and on farm, particularly Charolais in larger batches. He also buys younger animals around 10-12 months, to grow them on grass then finish inside in July-August.
He starts buying for grass in March, looking for leaner cattle and those which will give the highest feed conversion – and that will make money.
“I’m not buying the top cattle at the ringside, I’m buying the second part, good commercial cattle.
The Charolais has great potential – some breeders take them too far, perhaps to get a bit more money for them but it leaves little for the finisher to gain. It’s better to sell them in leaner condition.”
“You also have to look at what it costs the breeder to get them heavier, if they are too well fed, they don’t do so well. They lose condition when they go to grass, they just melt.” he added
“I’m trying to be on top of the market and have a good idea of what happens and there is a cycle of around six months. I’m seeing gradual changes in the suckler market, seeing cattle being sold at lighter weights – the finisher needs to get their chance to do their bit.”
Cattle are regularly weighed on and off grass, on and off finishing rations and then prior to slaughter allowing Mr Meston to monitor growth alongside recording feed intakes.
Younger cattle up to a 15 month limit are put to grass, with the biggest animals on grass for six to eight weeks. They are rotated on the grass fields, with them moving closer to the finishing sheds as they get closer to weight.
All cattle are weighed on arrival and treated routinely for IBR, Blackleg, worms and fluke.
“The regime at Chapelton depends upon the age and size – it’s a very flexible system which works around the market.” he says Alan.
Cattle might only be on grass for a few weeks, moving to the starter ration for two weeks. Nutritional advice and inputs are provided by Harbro and David Mackenzie, Harbro is a regular visitor to Chapelton to advise on diet and performance.
Cattle will be grown at grass supplemented with Energyze Cattle or inside on a silage/wholecrop/draff mix before moving on to the finishing ration, transitioning over a 14 day period.
With the reduced weight limits, Mr Meston doesn’t want them going over 700kg and incurring penalties so at 500kg, they go on to the finishing ration.
The finishing ration includes barley, biscuit meal, draff, potle ale syrup, dark grains and potatoes and is supplemented with Harbro Grampian Finisher mineral with Yea-Sacc and Rumitech.
Alan says the Rumitech helps with weight gain, “It helps keep them leaner and in the better grades.”
Such is the volume of feed consumed that two loads of washed potatoes are used every week. Cattle always have fresh feed in front of them every day with any remaining feed from the previous day removed.
“We let the troughs go empty for an hour every day, it keeps the edge on their appetite and, it maximises intakes and weight gain
Charolais bullocks spent an average 168 days on farm. “I buy to get as much weight on as possible in as short a time.”
“You need to grow them to a certain level, and you need the frame on them to finish. They cost a bit more to buy but you will get them to the better end of the prices more quickly.”
All of the kill from Chapelton achieves R or U grades – over the year, 50-60% were U grades with 10p premium on a –U and 20p on a +U which was achieved by 5%.
Cattle are kept in straw-bedded pens of 90-100 head drawn over a three week period with 40 away for slaughter every week but in November, they dispatched had 120 per week for three weeks, nearly all Charolais at 16-20 months for the Christmas market.
“The weight limit at McIntosh Donald is capped at 420kgs for bullocks, with severe penalties for cattle over the limit so I keep them within specification
Charolais bullocks averaged 385kg for the year with heifers coming in at 345 kg average, I have very few which are overweight.”
Following in the footsteps of his father also a finisher, Mr Meston bought his first cattle at the age of 13 at Thainstone’s forerunners, Kittybrewster and Belmont marts in Aberdeen. He is helped at home by wife Lesley who looks after the accounts, son Stewart, aged 19 along with a part-time man who works two days a week.
Stewart is now learning the ropes. He has been buying cattle for the last 15 months, some for his father and some for himself.
There’s an air of calm at Chapelton, cattle are quiet and contented. It’s an efficient operation too, where the 1200-1400 head of cattle can be fed in two hours, leaving plenty time for cattle to be sorted.
“If they are poorer performers, I am pretty ruthless so they’ll go for kill: we are looking at them being on the finishing ration for 100 days but when they have been on it for 120 days, it is time for them to go.
Now that I am adding more growing cattle and buying them younger, I’m producing more kgs of beef on farm and, keeping the weight gain up for a longer period. Over the last four years, the average annual weight gain has increased 0.05kg/day year on year from 1.2 up to 1.4kg/day.
Mr Meston points out that “You can get a 20p premium with native breeds (Aberdeen Angus) but, you can get the same premium with good continental grades.
We are docked 5p/kg for 4H fat cover. Charolais definitely gives the weight, getting up close to maximum weight at the 4L stage which is what the slaughterhouse wants.
In essence, the Charolais gives the weight we want with the conformation that we want in the shortest time.”
January 18, 2017 Results from the Charolais Bull Requirements Survey
Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the Charolais Bull Requirements Survey and we are pleased to announce that the draw winner’s Charolais jacket is on it’s way.
The survey has brought up some interesting feedback and it was great to see all of the positive feedback and in cases where the feedback was not so good we are looking at ways in which we can address your comments.
Lots of people are under the impression that Charolais bulls = calving problems but we know that there are lots of easy calving Charolais bulls out there. Just check out http://www.charolais.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/January-calving-ease-direct.pdf to see the latest list of easy calving bulls.
If you would like a chance to win we will be posting more questions in the coming weeks so you will have an opportunity to take part.
Please click the link to the right to view the results from the survey. Results from the Charolais Bull Requirements Survey
A series of free practical workshops to assist beef producers to select the most efficient and profitable breeding lines are being held across Scotland presented by SAC through Farm Advisory Service funding.
With the annual spring bull sales fast approaching the open events are aimed at assisting producers to choose the ideal bull for their herd. These workshops are popular and are proven to be very effective in helping buyers of bulls interpret both EBV’S (Estimated Breeding Value) cards along with Health Cards (interpreting Johne’s, BVD, TB and IBR status) that are presented in the catalogues and bull pens at the sales.
SAC Consulting Beef Specialist Gavin Hill, who will be facilitating at the meetings, said that the additional financial challenges facing farmers this year mean it is vital producers ensure they buy the right bull for their herds.
“With tighter abattoir specification becoming more widespread, it is especially important for farmers to select bulls that complement their cows in order to ensure they produce cattle to suit their chosen market,” said Mr Hill.
“Some producers are also moving towards more maternal cow types in order to have a cow suited to her farm environment. They are combining this with looking to achieve increased fat cover, good fertility and good longevity and it is important to bear this in mind when selecting a bull.”
However, Mr Hill warns care must be taken with this strategy to achieve the correct balance since many abattoirs report heifers being slaughtered with too much fat cover resulting in penalties to the finisher.
“The EBV for fat cover has become more important,” he said. Previously, recorded breeding bulls have been rewarded for leanness. However, this has led to cattle reaching very heavy weights with little fat cover being laid down. This is no longer in such demand by finishers following the cap on finished weight being demanded by processors.
“However, producers cannot suddenly change overnight and breeding decisions made now will not generate results for some time. With this in mind, specifications such as weight limits must be consistent to allow producers to make informed decisions when purchasing bulls.”
Mr Hill believes that EBVs are another tool to use when purchasing bulls alongside visual assessment. Comparing the use of EBVs with buying a car, he says: “EBVs will not tell you how a bull was reared or how it has been fed, but using them does give you an idea of what is going on under the bonnet.”
He advocates that first a visual assessment should be carried out for character, shape, conformation, legs and feet – all of which EBVs cannot convey.
An EBV is a value which expresses the difference (plus or minus) between an individual animal and the breed benchmark to which the animal is being compared. However, herd management also has an important role to play here as with EBVs such as calving ease. Mr Hill added: “Remember at calving time, how easily the cow will calve is 75% down to management and 25% genetics!”
Part of the workshop will also include an explanation of the Health Cards by Ian Pritchard, covering Johne’s and BVD (Bovine Virus Diarrhoea) available at the bull sales. It is increasingly important that the bulls purchased for the farm have the desired health status and the purchaser is fully aware of it. .
The EBV workshops will be held from 11am to 3pm at:
Northern Hotel, 2 Clerk Street, Brechin, DD9 6AE on Tuesday 24th January 2017 event1brechinjanuaryian2017
United Auctions, Stirling, FK9 4RN on Thursday 26th January 2017 event2stirlingian2017
Dingwall Market, Humberston, Dingwall, IV15 9TP on Thursday 2nd February 2017 event3dingwallian2017
Free lunch provided.
December 21, 2016 Charolais crosses meeting market specifications at Gwythrian
Taking a strategic approach to nutrition and management
The Williams family has focused on exploiting Charolais cross efficiency for over 40 years. Taking a strategic approach to nutrition and management to beef cattle rearing and finishing is becoming increasingly important in order to achieve adequate finish and meet with processors’ 400kg to 420kg specification.
Gwythrian fact file
- Alan and Catrin Williams farming with sons Wiliam, Dafydd and Ieuan
- 780 acres including 80 acres spring barley, LFA
- 80 Continental cross cow spring calving suckler herd, put to Charolais, all progeny finished
- 420 stores bought in annually for finishing, predominantly Charolais cross heifers
- 1,300 ewes, 180% lambs reared
The Williams run a high input high output beef enterprise in order to maximise returns, not only for themselves but also to ensure their sons’ farming future – two are back on the farm and one still at college. That goes not only for the beef enterprise which they say has a firm future at Gwythrian, but also the sheep – 90% of the February born lamb crop is away finished to target weight by June.
Attention to detail is apparent as they focus on making incremental gains across all aspects of the system – from weighing a sample of cattle on a monthly basis to ensure they are achieving target gain to analysing each specifically formulated diet on a monthly basis to check for silage quality and if necessary, modify the diet.
The Williams have also implemented a grass reseeding programme; current mixes include high sugar varieties and chicory. Performance from grazed grass has improved and grass silage has become more consistent.
Alan discusses the beef system’s key features.
We run a spring calving herd; 75% calve within the first two cycles and the remainder within 12 weeks; we are achieving an average 95% reared, a figure we’d like to push further. Replacement heifers are sufficiently grown to calve at two years and to an AI sire.
Maintaining a high health herd is critical; we inject for Lepto and BVD.
Charolais bulls are carefully selected within the breed’s top 10% for ease of calving and 400 day weight EBVs, however they also have to look the part. Bulls that are good on the eye and have the best Breedplan data tend to be 2,000gns above the average, however we believe they are a very good investment. With VIA already in operation at one of our processors, selecting sires for loin depth will become increasingly important.
Male calves are kept entire. Bulls and heifers are weaned at six months and housed.
On housing, the bulls are gradually introduced over a 10-day period to a high starch TMR.
We prefer to finish bulls rather than steers – we’re aware from experience they are far more efficient in terms of feed conversion, they’re easier to finish and to get the right cover and they’re all away by 13 months which frees up space for more cattle and our time for other things. For those various reasons, it’s a shame that the majority of processors are no longer interested in bulls.
We target 1.1kg DLWG from weaning to May turn out and that’s what they are achieving on Wynnstay’s diet specifically formulated for heifers. After their second grazing season they are introduced to a second diet, specifically formulated for finishing heifers – see table 2.
We purchase mainly Charolais cross heifers at an average 17 months of age and 530kg at a handful of local store markets – we are very selective. We have over the years developed a relationship with various suckler men, we provide them with feedback on their cattle and encourage them to invest in Charolais bulls with the same high EBVs that we are looking for.
Housed cattle are introduced to the same finishing diet as the homebred heifers. We target 1.5kg DLG and that’s what the cattle are achieving.
50% finish off grass. They are supplemented with a mix of homegrown barley fed at 5kg a head per day and molasses for the final two months. To achieve the correct target weight and cover, we find them easier to finish off grass.
Table 1: Gwythrian beef unit performance 2015/16
Weaning (kg) at 24 weeks
Target DLWG (kg)
Finished Dwt (kg)
Finished age (months)
|Charolais cross homebred bulls||
|Charolais cross homebred heifers||
|Charolais cross purchased heifers||
Gwythrian nutrition: key features
Diets are all home mixed using the same basic ingredients – homegrown silage, homegrown barley and barley straw plus by-products. The diets are formulated according to age, weight and gender by Gwythrian’s nutritionist, Iwan Vaughan, of Wynnstay who offers the following pointers.
Working closely with the Williams, we have adapted diets over the years to achieve higher DLWG per kg DMI. This has meant moving away from cheaper starch based by-products to utilising more home grown barley and adding ground maize into the diet, which offers a slower fermenting starch source that reduces acid load and increases the utilisation and efficiency of the other feedstuffs.
Regularly weighing cattle along with recording feed intakes through the Keenan’s Pace software system provides valuable data and information to enable management decisions. Although the cost per kg DM of feed may be higher, the feed cost per kg of gain is far less.
Weighing cattle is key to Gwythrian’s success. The time spent doing this is nothing compared to the financial gains that can be achieved from analysing the data.
Creep feeding calves
Calves are offered concentrates as a creep feed in August to take advantage of the superior feed efficiency of a young ruminant and to restrict the check at weaning. The creep comprises 50% of a 20% protein rearer nut, and 50% oats giving us a 15% overall mix. This mix gives us higher digestible fibre from the nuts and oats which is ideally suited to be fed alongside grass. The starch within the diet is kept at a moderate level to ensure the calves are growing lean and bone at an early age and not laying down fat.
After weaning the bulls are slowly introduced to a finishing diet. Starch is increased through the finishing period whilst the protein content is reduced. The target diet parameters are as follows
- MJ/kg DM-12MJ
- Crude Protein
The acid load and rumen health are taken into account and faeces monitored. The diet adjusted if required.
On housing after weaning they are introduced to a forage diet based on silage and supplemented with oats and a custom blend to increase energy and protein to the target levels. Starch levels are kept low through this period to encourage frame growth instead of fat deposition.
As the finishing heifers are housed they are introduced to a grass silage diet supplemented with high levels of starch. The target parameters are as follows.
- MJ/kg DM-12MJ
- Crude Protein
The target is to get as much out of the home grown silage as possible and supplement with high quality raw materials with a range of starches that degrade in the rumen over different periods of time in order to manage rumen acid loading. Faeces are monitored and diets adjusted as required.
FCR kg gain/kg DMI
Seven to 13 months finish
Barley, oats, ground maize, custom blend (comprising rapemeal, distillers and sugar beet pulp), molasses, minerals (including Biosprint yeast) and Sodium Bicarbonate. Straw is included in the mix, and also offered ad lib
Seven to 12 months
Grass silage, straw, oats, custom blend, minerals including Biosprint yeast
final stage to 24 months finish
Grass silage, straw, barley, oats, ground maize, custom blend, molasses, minerals (including Biosprint yeast), sodium bicarbonate
December 2, 2016 Livescot 2016
Overall Champion at Livescot 2016 was Honey Dime from Wilson Peters who went on to sell for £4900 to B & T Kitson, North Yorkshire.
Winner of Class 5 – Steer sired by a Charolais (531 kg and upwards) was Mr & Mrs A Cormack with Brexit and Class 10 – Heifer sired by a Charolais (531 kg and upwards) placed as follows:
1st Wilson A Peters with Honey Dime (74)
2nd S & L Bett with Rio (68)
3rd Ben Radley with Blonde Ambition (75) …
The Best Pure Bred Charolais was No 70 from I & D Goldie
November 23, 2016 English Winter Fair – Bingley Hall
Pedigree Calf Show
Judge: Mr D Wyllie, Edingale, Tamworth, Staffordshire
The following classes are kindly sponsored by Rumenco Ltd & Nettex
Class 85/86 Bull Calf born between 1st August 2015 and 30th June 2016
1st DR & B Stacey Cornwall Polgoda Maverick Ch. UK387859100083. M. b. 11.2.16. Bred by exhibitor. S. Balbithan Elra. D. Pentorgord Clover.
2nd DR & B Stacey Cornwall Polgoda Macknizie Ch UK387859200084. M. b. 26.02.16. Bred by exhibitor. S. Balbithan Elra. D. Pentorgord Becky,
3rd DR & B Stacey Cornwall Polgoda Legend Ch UK387859400079. M. b. 23.12.15. Bred by exhibitor. S Balbitha Elra. D. Polgoda Glamarass.
Class 88 Junior Heifer Calf born between 1st January 2016 and 30th June 2016
1st A Wylde Somerset Martland Mood UK349012400281. B. 2.02.16. Bred by J Wylde. S. Skysea Fearless. D. Tolland Brood. NFS.
2nd Nicholas & Heath Ches Hockenhull Millionaire Maisie UK160874700650. F. b.11.03.16. Bred by exhibitor. S. Thrunton Fairfax. D. Ugle Flair. NFS
Sp.17 a. For the champion bull calf sired by a Pedigree Charolais bull £75 offered by The British Charolais Cattle Society
371 DR & B Stacey Cornwall Polgoda Maverick Ch. UK387859100083. M. b. 11.2.16. Bred by exhibitor. S. Balbithan Elra. D. Pentorgord Clover.
b. For the reserve Champion bull calf sired by a Pedigree Charolais bull £50 offered by The British Charolais Cattle Society
DR & B Stacey Cornwall Polgoda Macknizie Ch UK387859200084. M. b. 26.02.16. Bred by exhibitor. S. Balbithan Elra. D. Pentorgord Becky,
Sp.18 a. For the champion heifer calf sired by a Pedigree Charolais bull £75 offered by The British Charolais Cattle Society
A Wylde Somerset Martland Mood UK349012400281. B. 2.02.16. Bred by J Wylde. S. Skysea Fearless. D. Tolland Brood. NFS.
b. For the reserve Champion heifer calf sired by a Pedigree Charolais bull £50 offered by The British Charolais Cattle Society
Nicholas & Heath Ches Hockenhull Millionaire Maisie UK160874700650. F. b.11.03.16. Bred by exhibitor. S. Thrunton Fairfax. D. Ugle Flair. NFS
Sp.19 a. For the Overall calf sired by a Pedigree Charolais Bull £100 offered by The British Charolais Cattle Society
DR & B Stacey Cornwall Polgoda Maverick Ch. UK387859100083. M. b. 11.2.16. Bred by exhibitor. S. Balbithan Elra. D. Pentorgord Clover.
b. For the Reserve Overall calf sired by a Pedigree Charolais bull £50 offered by The British Charolais Cattle Society
A Wylde Somerset Martland Mood UK349012400281. B. 2.02.16. Bred by J Wylde. S. Skysea Fearless. D. Tolland Brood. NFS.
SECTION 2 – NON PEDIGREE CATTLE
Judge: Mr D Plested, Chinnor, Oxon
The following two classes kindly sponsored by the British Charolais Cattle Society Ltd
Class 28 – 29 Crossbred Steer, sired by a Charolais
1st JL White & Son E Yorks Wombat CHx UK105893301221. M. b. 17.08.15. Bred by GC & KJ White.
2nd M Everatt E Yorks Minto CHx UK106000703763. M. b. 30.05.15. Bred by JW Dent & Sons.
3rd N Leighton Cumb Steady Eddie CH UK720074501204. M. b. 6.05.15. Bred by JAO & PM Mills & Son. NFS
4th A Wylde Somerset Henry CHx UK349012500268. M. b.25.07.15. Bred by J Wylde. S. Skysea Fearless. D. Primrose. NFS.
Class 30 – 31 Crossbred Heifer, sired by a Charolais
Please refer to Special Prize 54
1st R Kingston Somerset Baby Bell CH UK386157400133. F. b. 10.06.15. Bred by Ross Withers.
2nd J & S Wareham E Sussex Cinderella CHx UK340416100243. F. b. 11.04.15. Bred by ML & DJ Crabb. NFS
3rd P Price Powys Golden Girl CHx UK700735301899. F. b. 29.11.15. Bred by Bowen & Bowen. S. Denallwd Henry. NFS
4th A Orr-Ewing Wilts Foxacre Lundi Pascal.CH UK323302100245. F. b. 6.04.15. Bred by exhibitor. s. Kesley Forceful. D. Foxacre Urgence.