June 18, 2018 Carlisle Charolais Summer Sale
The Charolais Cattle Summer Sale on Friday 15 June at Carlisle saw a small show of only 3 bulls forward but did achieve a 100% clearance rate with top price of 3,600gns and an average of £2733.
Leading the sale was Messrs Campbell’s Thrunton Mercedes from Alnwick, Northumberland. This 2-year-old bull was sired by the 14,000gns Stirling junior champion Blelack Imperialist and out of Thrunton Heartbreaker, a Blelack Digger daughter and was purchased on the day by Messrs McClanachan from Dumfries.
Next in the price rankings was Richard and Carol Rettie’s November 2016-born bull Retties Magic. Sired by 12,000gns Carlisle reserve senior champion Wesley Equinox and out of the East Lothian-bred Redheughs Cumbria who goes back to the National Show reserve male champion Glencoe Vision, he was purchased by Messrs Duff from Wigton.
The final bull to sell was the 15-month-old Crookdake Naylor from Messrs Miller’s Waverton based herd. This son of Hallbankgate Jackpot and the 25,000gns Perth supreme champion Goldies Unbeatable Crookdake Damaris, was purchased by Messrs Mounsey from Penrith.
Auctioneers: Harrison & Hetherington
Averages: 3 Bulls, £2733.33
May 1, 2018 Charolais AHDB Live to Dead demonstration
On the 7th March we held our first L2D demonstration courtesy of AHDB and Dunbia Sawley, it was a practical and educational event which allowed members to handle live animals and make assessment of fat cover, conformation using the EUROP grid and carcase weight.
Sue and Steve Powdrill AHDB assessing one of the Charolais cross cattle for finish
We then saw the same animals on the hook in the chillers with the actual classification, so we could compare our assessments made whilst the animals were alive.
Assessing the carcase against the live assessment with David Eden from MLCSL.
After reassessing the carcase’s we were shown the cutting room where all the meat is packed and processed for several different retailers, we then walked the line starting at the stunning box and observed all the operation right through to the independent classification carried out by MLCSL and fridges where the carcases are hung, there was also plenty of opportunity to discuss various market requirements, factors affecting killing out percentages and dressing specifications too.
We discussed the EUROP grids advantages, disadvantages and interestingly an R4L now suits approximately 85% of the markets needs, with 56% of the carcase being minced and a higher percentage of the rounds minced.
One of the key messages that came out of the day was that we need to keep our focus on the width, depth and length of loin the high value cuts, its far more important than producing animals with poor loins and large rounds with the rounds being of less value and possibly minced
Some of the key slides from the day
Prime beef selection | Carcase classification grid
The green area is the key target area for demand with the amber and especially the red less so.
Prime beef selection | Understanding cattle and carcases
An R4L now suits 85% of the markets needs
Finishing cattle and the cost to the industry for having over fat cattle, it’s not only an extra cost to the farmers producing fat cattle (and getting penalised for its classification) but a cost to the abattoirs who then must trim the fat off and in some cases valuable joints are having to be minced
On the pictures below, you can see the difference between the two classifications of rib eye with the 5H showing an excess in the Subcutaneous, intramuscular and intermuscular fat levels
One of the things we discussed was the effect of liver fluke to the industry and here we have an infected condemned liver which is full of fluke this not only hits the daily live weight gains of the animals but costs the industry many £1000’s in livers that are not fit to use.
This was another issue which is costing the industry a lot of money here are two silversides which have been damaged from injecting in the wrong area with dirty needles, the conclusion was its better to inject into the neck muscles with new needles from an animal welfare point and spoiling more expensive cuts of meat.
It was an excellent day both in the classroom and in the abattoir Steve and David from AHDB are good down to earth people who understand the industry and its always great to learn something about the industry we all work in.
A big thankyou to Dunbia Sawley for hosting the event and providing a great buffet dinner.
If you fancy coming along, please give the office a call and we’ll put you on the waitinglist.
Photos courtesy of AHDB
March 1, 2018 £2,000 increase on Charolais average at Aberdeen
A combination of pedigree and commercial interest saw a solid trade of Charolais bulls at the Royal Northern Agricultural Society Spring Show on Wednesday 28 February. Bidding peaked at 8,200gns and 11 lots sold to an average of £6,252, a massive £2,082 up on last year’s trade.
Topping the Charolais lots at 8,200gns, was C and E McCombie’s Auchincrieve Montreal from Huntly, Aberdeenshire, whose herd also saw the best average of the day at £7,070 with two more high priced lots finding new homes. Montreal, an April 2016-born son of Olrig Highwayman and the Sang-D’or-sired Auchincrieve Fiona, was purchased by E Innes and Son, Ballindalloch, Banffshire.
Commanding a 6,200gns bid from Haddo House, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, was the red-ticket-winner Auchincrieve Mclovin. This 21-month-old entry from the same home as Montreal is also sired by Olrig Highwayman, his dam is the 38,000gns Perth reserve junior champion Goldies Champion daughter Harviestoun Golddust.
The reserve champion Kinclune Marco from JA Wilson and Sons, Glenkindie, Aberdeenshire, was next in the trade stakes and the first of two to sell for 8,000gns. Sired by the 20,000gns Carlisle supreme champion Beechtree George and out of Kinclune Gemma, a Maerdy Boom daughter, the 22-month-old Marco stayed local when purchased by G Wilson and Son, Glenkindle, Aberdeenshire.
The Wilson’s, who sold a total of three to average £6,125 had another Beechtree George son in the money, this time out of the home-bred 20,000gns Perth supreme champion Thrunton Crownprince daughter Kinclune Gloriana. The July 2016-born Kinclune Montgomery attracted a 5,000gns bid from C Addison, Ellon, Aberdeenshire.
The second to be knocked down at 8,000gns, was the June 2016-born Tonley Mahez who had been awarded a yellow ticket earlier in the day at the pre-sale show, for breeders and exhibitors NA Wattie, Alford, Aberdeenshire. C Smith, Dunecht, Westhill, was the man with his hand in the air when the hammer came down on the Blelack Forbes-sired Mahez, bred out of the 15,000gns Goldies Dynamite daughter Blelack Glamourpuss.
Two bulls came under the hammer for 5,800gns with the first being the yellow ticket winner and March 2016-born Auchincrieve Maximus, consigned by the aforementioned C and E McCombie. He is no stranger to the show ring having been awarded second prize calf at Stars of the Future in November. Another by Olrig Highwayman and from Blelack Thelma who in turn is sired by the 15,000gns Maerdy Oxo, he was purchased by Firm of AAY, Thurso, Caithness.
The second call of 5,800gns was paid by M and I Steel, Banchory, Kincardineshire, for the 20-month-old Bonnykelly Mark, who was tapped out second in his class earlier in the day. Mark who is sired by the 10,000gns Carlisle reserve intermediate champion Gretnahouse Ivory and out of Bonnykelly Freda who goes back to the New Deer Show champion Newhouse Challanger, was bred and exhibited by R Leggat, New Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire.
The Steel’s were in a buying mood and snapped up another lot from Mr Leggat for 5,000gns, this time the class winning Bonnykelly Magnum. Magnum who was crowned champion at the New Deer show at just 13 months old, is a 20-month-old son of Kersknowe Clansman and Bonnykelly Fern, a daughter of New Deer Show champion Newhouse Challanger.
The third lot to cash in a 5000gns was the day’s champion from AN Reid, Hill of Logie, Aberdeenshire. Purchased by F and J Whyte, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Foundland Magistrate who boasts some top-class pedigree breeding behind him is sired by the 16,000gns Perth Junior Champion Clyth Diplomat, who has previously bred sons to 16,000gns. His dam line is no less impressive, out of Foundland Helen who has bred bulls to 7,500gns, her sire being the 26,000gns Maerdy Amontillado who has bred a Highland Show Champion and her grandsire is the 25,000gns Highland Show champion Maerdy Impeccable.
Averages: 11 bulls £6,252
Auctioneers: Aberdeen and Northern Marts
February 9, 2018 Challenges ahead; time to think about your forward Beef strategy.
By David Mackenzie, Harbro
The press is full of debate about the challenges facing not only the UK as a whole post-Brexit, but specifically the challenges which may arise for UK agriculture once current trade agreements are changed. Without doubt this has the potential to cause great change – some say for the better, whist others fear agriculture could suffer without the EU support mechanisms and tariff protections.
The truth is that nobody knows what the outcome will be, and in the context of climate change and world population growth, perhaps Brexit will not even be the dominant force for change in the years ahead.
With this background how can beef producers possibly know the right way forward for their genetics?
The reality is that the choice of bull made today is a statement of the direction of that beef business for the next number of years. The type of genetics chosen today will in many cases be a key driver towards the sort of beef herd you have in 10 years’ time.
The three pillars of farm performance: Genetics, Nutrition, Management
Looking forward, the recurrent theme which seems to come through in all scenarios seems to be a drive towards greater technical efficiency. Whether it is from a reduction in post–Brexit support, reductions in tariffs which help restrict beef imports to the UK or long-term global demand for nutrients, all roads appear to lead to the conclusion that we need to ‘maximise outputs from given inputs’.
Genetics: Starting at the beginning of the supply chain the single most important factor that determines the profitability of the whole herd, is using the best available genetics. With less labour and time available Breeders are striving towards shorter calving periods and aiming towards more consistency in batch sizes at weaning. Responding to the requirements of the finisher, the aim is to achieve less days to market and more weight off farm at a younger age. With supply chains in many cases becoming more integrated, and with performance data being more readily available, the focus on genetics is going to be stronger than ever. And with farms becoming larger, understanding the role of genetics in whole-chain efficiency will become paramount.
Nutrition: It is absolutely clear that nutrition is key to achieving the potential of genetics. Exciting new science is demonstrating the opportunity to change the way genes are expressed through nutrition, and that this might even be possible before conception! There is clear opportunity for further useful research to be carried out in this area but we should be aware of the scope to improve current efficiency through improved feeding. One of the most striking recent examples has been the improved output of heifers by applying the correct balance of protein and starch at a young age. This has led to significant extra output and value from increased carcass weight.
In the past few years Harbro have worked with producers to improve health through nutrition and as a result we have developed a clear message of getting the rumen right is fundamental to overall health.
Management: The finishing landscape is changing. The pressures being placed on processors for a more efficient supply of uniform, quality product is resulting in much closer collaborations between the large finishers and abattoirs. With a greater focus on a more consistent supply of the appropriate animals, finishers themselves are looking to source more of the ideal animals for their system. These changes will inevitably drive a new focus on management which is likely to lead to more streamlined systems relying on detailed production data.
The beef industry may have much to learn in this regard from the unsubsidised pig and poultry industries which have driven output and efficiency in a large part through tackling variation in production. Eliminating the loss from ‘bottom-third’ performers is possibly the quickest way towards improving efficiency and profitability, and this is where many in the beef industry are focusing their attention.
The reality is that much of this variation can be tackled even before bulling by planning for a tight calving pattern. A more consistent group of calves makes management so much easier, and translates to an easier managed breeding herd as replacements come through. Proper pre-bulling nutrition, bull management and health surveillance set the best foundations for bulling success. Only bulling heifers over a six week period has ensured that only the most fertile animals are joining the herd and this has been a successful improvement to many breeders.
Harbro are investing heavily in supporting a profitable beef industry. We have developed a strategic partnership with Glasgow Vet School to take a lead on understanding the interaction between nutrition, rumen health and performance data. As profit drives our decisions the Charolais breed has always been recognised for delivering a fast growing efficient animal and this is why the breed was brought into the UK industry over 50 years ago and will have an even bigger role to play in the future.
Whilst challenges are undoubtedly ahead it is quite clear that the UK has the farmers, the genetics, the science and the management skills to compete. To do that, however, we need to plan and make the right decisions now.
Picture attached: Alan Meston, Stonehaven Aberdeenshire, a great example of a data driven Beef finisher which has put Charolais at the centre of his business strategy.
July 27, 2017 Magny Cours Trip
Charolais National Show and National Calve Show and Sale
at Magny Cours
“The Greatest Charolais event in France this year”
6th 7th and 8th September 2017
Your tour includes:-
- 4 Nights Hotel Accommodation including Continental Breakfast at the 4 star Mercure Hotel just 20 minutes from the Charolais Centre at Magny Cours (Arrive Tuesday 5th September and depart Saturday 9th September)
- Coach Transfer from Airport to Hotel
- Transport to and from the show ground each day
- Farm Visits arranged to some excellent local breeders
- Tuesday Evening – Welcome Dinner with the French Charolais Society
- Wednesday Morning – Farm Visit
- Wednesday Afternoon – National Show Judging – Females
- Wednesday Evening – Invitation to the Breeders Dinner
- Thursday Morning – Farm Visit
- Thursday Morning – National Show Judging – Bulls
- Thursday Afternoon – Beef Cattle Show
- Thursday Evening – French Charolais Society Cocktail Party
- Friday morning – National Calf Show
- Friday Afternoon – National Calf Show Auction
- Friday Evening – Last Night Dinner – venue to be arranged
- Saturday transfer from Hotel to Paris CDG for return flights home
A must for the serious Charolais Breeder
Over 300 cattle at the National Show and more than 200 young stock at the National Calf Show
Estimated costing based on 34 * persons on tour
550 Euros per person for Double or Twin Room (GBP – £520)
670 Euros per person for single occupancy (GBP £615)
- The tour cost has been calculated based on 34 persons on tour – there will be an adjustment to cost to cover the coach transport if the numbers are less
- We are hoping to promote the tour in both the UK and Ireland to try and maximise numbers
- The costs do not include flights because the cost varies at the time of booking – however we are happy to help you with on line flight bookings – see flight information below.
- Flight Information from Dublin to Paris and return – Aer Lingus
- 5th September 2017 Depart Dublin 09.40 arrive Paris CDG 12.25
- 9th September 2017 Depart Paris CDG 13.05 arrive Dublin 13.50
- Flight Information for Manchester to Paris CDG and return – Air France
- 5th September 2017 Depart Manchester 0845 arrive Paris CDG 11.15
- 9th September 2017 Depart Paris CDG 13.10 arrive Manchester 13.35
Pedigree Tours general terms and conditions available upon request or visit our website www.pedigreetours.com
Email email@example.com Tel. 07730 925756 Pedigree Tours 133 Bargates Leominster Herefordshire HR6 8QS
July 13, 2017 Charolais National Show held at the Great Yorkshire Show
Judge Chris Curry
Junior Female Champion & Reserve Female Champion Darren & Donna Knox – Drumshane Mademoiselle – s. Inverlochy Gurkha
Reserve Junior Female Champion Mr A Brown – Ellerton Lucy – s. Hendt Fanfare
Junior Male Champion Mr J Watson – Tweeddale Matador – s. Blelack Blackberet
Reserve Junior Male Champion DA & SM Miller – Crookdake Masterclass – s. Thrunton Bonjovi
Junior Champion Tweeddale Matador
Reserve Junior Champion Drumshane Mademoiselle
Male Champion & Reserve Supreme Champion Mr D Thornley – Davally Igolo – s. Balthayock Longbow
Reserve Male Champion DA & SM Miller – Sportsmans Linesman – s. Barnsford Ferny
Female Champion & Supreme Champion A & A White – Balbithan Iona – s. Chunal Dougie
Class 80 – Pairs 1st – RA & J Blyth 2nd – Boden & Davies Ltd
Class 81 – Female, born on or between 1 May & 31 July 2016 1st – Boden & Davies Ltd – Sportsmans Maisie – s. Barnsford Ferny 2nd – Mr A Brown – Ellerton Marigold – s. Sandelford Harrison
Class 82 – Female, born on or between 1 March & 30 April 2016 1st – Mr D Knox – Drumshane Mademoiselle – s. Inverlochy Gurkha 2nd – Mr D Thornley – Dooley Marriot – s. Davally Igolo ET 3rd – Mr RJ Ashworth – Stoneylane Milana – s. Wesley Equinox
Class 83 – Female, born on or between 1 January & 29 February 2016 1st – Mr & Mrs A White – Balbithan Mowlem – s. Balthayock Hamish 2nd – F, J & EC Andrews – Holtstead Lottie – s. Balthayock Hamish 3rd – Mrs J Rix – Wissington Melody – s. Thrunton Hammerstein
Class 84 – Female, born on or between 1 July & 31 December 2015 1st – Mr A Brown – Ellerton Lucy – s. Hendy Fanfare 2nd – Boden & Davies Ltd – Sportsmans Lacey – s. Barnsford Ferny 3rd – RA & J Blyth – Marwood Lauren – s. Burradon Goldenballs
Class 85 – Female, born on or after 1 January & 30 June 2015 1st – Boden & Davies – Sportsmans Ladyship – s. Barnsford Ferny 2nd – Mr J Watson – Tweeddale Lady ET – s. Blelack Blackberet 3rd – Mr & Mrs A White – Balbithan Lupin – s. Goldies Eddy
Class 86 – Female, born on or before 31 December 2014 1st – Mr & Mrs A White – Balbithan Iona – s. Chunal Dougal 2nd – JB Wainwright – Rogan’s Jojo – Corrie Alan 3rd – DR & B Stacey – Westcarse Iola – s. Mortimers Echo
Class 87 – Bull, born on or between 1 May & 31 July 2016 1st – DA & SM Miller – Crookdake Masterclass – s. Thrunton Bonjovi 2nd – Boden & Davies Ltd – Sportsmans Merlin – s. Barnsford Ferny 3rd – RA & J Blyth – Marwood Minister – s. Burradon Goldenballs
Class 88 – Bull, born on or between 1 March & 30 April 2016 1st – J Watson – Tweeddale Matador – s. Blelack Blackberet 2nd – BA & PT Heath – Sackville Midas – s. Wesley Equinox 3rd – DT & M Stobart – Scalehouses Manup – s. Huntershield Edison
Class 89 – Bull, born on or between 1 January & 29 February 2016 1st – Mr & Mrs A White – Balbithan Mackenzie – s. Loganbar Goran
Class 90 – Bull, born in 2015 1st – DA & SM Miller – Sportsmans Linesman – s. Barnsford Ferny
Class 91 – Bull, born on or before 31 December 2014 1st – Mr D Thornley – Davally Igolo ET – s. Balthayock Longbow 2nd – Boden & Davies Ltd – Goldies Jerry – s. Goldies Formidable
June 23, 2017 Royal Highland Show 2017
Class 245 – Female born on or between 1 April & 31 July 2016
1 – Andrew Stott – Tophill Maryette – s. Ratoary Ferguson
2 – John Irvine & Son – Inverlovchy Maddie – s. Blelack Giggsey
3 – Robert Aitken – Lourie Mabel – s. Goldies Eddy
Class 246 – Female born on or between 1 January & 31 March 2016
1 – Darren Knox – Drumshane Mademoiselle – s. Inverlochy Gurkha
2 – Jennifer Rix – Wissington Melody -s. Thrunton Hammerstein
3 – D Muirhead – Firhills Maisie – s. Wesley Equinox
Class 247 – Female born on or between 24 June & 31 December 2015
1 – Andrew Hornall – Falleninch Lottie – s. Dereskit Fernando
2 – John Irvine & Son – Inverlochy Lulu – s. Blelack Giggsey
3 – David & Nick Walter – Balthayock Leonora – s. Ugie Echo
Class 248 – Female born on or between 1 January & 23 June 2015
1 – D Muirhead – Firhills Lady – s. Maerdy Grenadier
2 – David & Nick Walter – Balthayock Lisa – s. Balbithan Vespasian
3 – Andrew Hornall – Falleninch Leona – s. Dereskit Fernando
Class 249 – Female born on or between 1 January & 31 December 2014
1 – Andrew Morris – Olrig Jadore – s. Dingle Hofmeister
2 – David & Nick Walter – Balthayock Jemima – s. Elgin Glenlivet
Class 250 – Female in milk or in calf born on or before 31 December 2013
1 – John Christie & Son – Westcarse Emerald – s. Kersknowe Clansman
2 – John Irvine & Son – Inverlochy Demi – s. Gower Versace
Class 251 – Bull born on or between 1 April & 30 June 2016
1 – Jonathan Watson – Tweeddale Matador – s. Blelack Blackberet
2 – John Irvine & Son – Inverlochy Magic – s. Blelack Giggsey
3 – Roy Milne & Sons – Elgin Master – s. Mortimers Infinity
Class 252 – Bull born on or between 1 January & 31 March 2016
1 – D Muirhead – Firhills Morgan – s. Maerdy Grenadier
2 – Jennifer Rix – Wissington Mercedes – s. Thrunton Hammerstein
3 – Robert Aitken – Lourie Marvellous – s. Lowerffryd Benhur
Class 254 – Bull born on or between 1 January & 23 June 2015
1 – George Russell – Lesliepark Lithgow – s. Newhouse Bigal
2 – John Young – Edenhurst Lyric – s. Sandelford Harrison
Class 255 – Bull born on or before 31 December 2014
1 – J Irvine & Son – Kilbline 1 Instigator ET – s. Oscar
J Irvine & Son – Kilbline 1 Instigator ET – s. Oscar
D Muirhead – Firhills Lady – s. Maerdy Grenadier
D Muirhead – Firhills Lady – s. Maerdy Grenadier
Reserve Female Champion
David & Nick Walter – Balthayock Lisa – s. Balbithan Vespasian
J Irvine & Son – Kilbline 1 Instigator ET – s. Oscar
Reserve Male Champion
Jonathan Watson – Tweeddale Matador – s. Blelack Blackberet
Junior Female Champion
Darren Knox – Drumshane Mademoiselle – s. Inverlochy Gurkha
Reserve Junior Female Champion
Andrew Hornall – Falleninch Lottie – s. Dereskit Fernando
Junior Male Champion
Jonathan Watson – Tweeddale Matador – s. Blelack Blackberet
Reserve Junior Male Champion
D Muirhead – Firhills Morgan – s. Maerdy Grenadier
Darren Knox – Drumshane Mademoiselle – s. Inverlochy Gurkha
Reserve Junior Champion
Jonathan Watson – Tweeddale Matador – s. Blelack Blackberet
Andrew Hornall – Falleninch Leona & Falleninch Libby
April 11, 2017 British Genetics Dominate the Irish Sale Trade
Buyers at this year’s Irish Charolais Cattle Society Premier show and sale in Elphin, on the 25 March were looking to purchase bulls with British linage giving high euro star indexes and good calving figures.
Leading the trade at €7,000 was the October 2015 born bull, Drumcullen Longshot. Exhibited by John Fleury from Killyon, Co. Offaly, this catchy bull is a son of the herd’s former stock bull, Vexour Granville. Imported from the UK from breeder Jan Boomaars, Woldingham, Surrey, in 2012 when he was just a year old, Granville has certainly left his mark on the Drumcullen herd, siring a number of high priced cattle in recent years. A second prize winner in the pre-sale show, Longshot sold with a five-star terminal index of €134 and a calving figure of 7.3% to Michael Phillips from County Sligo.
The pre-sale show was judged by Patsy Mc Cabe from the Blakestown herd in county Louth. He found his senior champion in the form of Sionhill Lazer exhibited by the Carey’s from Killucan, Co. Westmeath. One of the ringside favourites from the moment he entered the ring, Lazer is a November 2015 born son of British bred Balthayock Hamish from David and Nick Walter, Balthayock, Perthshire. He went under the hammer with a five-star terminal index of €129 and a calving figure of just 6.4%. He was knocked down to James Johnston from Northern Ireland at €5,500.
The reserve senior male champion went to another British sired son this time out of Elgin Davinci bred by Roy Milne, Lhanbryde, Morayshire. Westmeath breeder Aidan Farrell was the exhibitor of Williamstown Lenny, a November 2015 born bull who stood top of the line in a strong second class of bulls, but failed to meet his reserve in the sales ring.
Taking home the junior champion of the show was the winner of the last class of bulls, Drummand Master. Just over 13 months old on sale day, this young bull was bred and exhibited by Michael Quigley from Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan. A son of the UK sire JHC Campbell and Sons’ 18,000gns Thrunton Fairfax, Master exchanged hands at €4,800 to M and P Connolly from Roslea, Co. Fermanagh.
Getting back to the top sellers again, Michael Kavanagh from Brownshill, Co. Carlow was next in line with their first prize winner, Brownshill 14 Major. A pre-sale favourite having won the junior male champion at last year’s National Charolais Show, this January 2016 born son of the British 70,000gns Royal Welsh Show supreme champion Barnsford Ferny bred by Tom and Sheena Gatherer, won his class before selling for €5,800 to Thomas Whitehead, Goresbridge, Co. Kilkenny.
Hitting the €4,800 mark was Carrickbrack 96 Maximus exhibited by Noel Maxwell from Convoy, Co. Donegal. This January 2016 born son of the renowned easy calving UK sire Blelack Digger bred by Neil Massie, was one of the highest index bulls catalogued with a five-star terminal index of €153, a five star replacement index of €132 and a calving figure of just 6.5%. This bull’s pedigree is no stranger to success in the sales ring, with full brothers selling for numerous high prices in Ireland and Scotland. He was snapped up by County Mayo breeder Joe Mc Donnell from Louisburgh.
March 7, 2017 Future beef farmers = Charolais
6 March 2017
Future beef farmers = Charolais
Future beef farmers are using EBVs and focusing on easy calving Charolais bulls, according to one leading university’s students.
Charolais was the first choice of sire for almost 50% of Harper Adams University final year Foundation Degree students completing an assignment which required a detailed plan for a new suckler herd.
The Charolais bulls they selected had one thing in common, they were all within the breed’s top 20% for calving ease, according to Simon Marsh, Principal Lecturer and Beef Cattle Specialist.
The breed’s popularity has also surged in the last 12 months, he says. In 2016, 39.3% of students responding to a similar exercise chose Charolais.
“This year’s assignment confirmed that the beef farmers of the future are using EBVs and focusing on Charolais bulls with good calving ease,” says Mr Marsh.
HAU student choice of terminal sire 2017
The Harper Adams (4,000 word) assignment briefed students they had just accepted a job as farm manager on a lowland farm and the owner has instructed him/her to establish a suckler herd. They had to write a detailed plan for the herd including choice of breed of cow and bull, calving season, replacement policy, management of reproduction, feeding, grazing management, rearing system of the weaned calves and health plan.
Issued by Liz Snaith Agricultural Communications on 07974 678833
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.”