South East Club Trip to Scotland 2009:
Monday 10th August 2009 30 members of the South East Club board a bus and head for Scotland. Crossing the Irish Sea to Stranraer we head up the spectacular Ayrshire coast to our base outside Glasgow.
Tuesday morning visit first farm. The Kype herd of Ron Cruikshank. This hill farm, rising to 1000 feet above sea level carries 60 Limousin cows along with a flock of sheep. Ron was the owner of Cloughhead Lord and his daughters were certainly the most impressive on the farm showing great depth, length and muscling. He is now using a French bull called Ulster and has a young bull from Ireland, a Rocky son bought in Roscrea. On this farm winters last 6 months and it illustrates the adaptability of the Limousin to produce profitability in a climate so different from their home in Southern France.
On to our second farm, Ron’s uncle Norman Cruikshank’s Normande herd. Norman is a well known visitor to Ireland and a regular buyer of bulls at Roscrea. Bulls bought include a Nelson son from Donegal, a Nenuphar son, Fairymount Arthur form Kilkenny and a Mas Du Clo son, from Clare. All these bulls were doing a great job producing quality young stock which Norman mostly sells from home to customers who come again and again to buy bulls that they know will deliver for them. This is a lowland farm which had to be striped early in the winter and Norman then brings in a large number of lambs to finish over the winter.
Third farm: The Mairacote herd of Ian Nimmo near Wishaw in Lanarkshire. A tremendous herd of cows and young stock. Ian also values Irish stock and his top bull is Virginia Andy, a son of Elite Popsi bought in Roscrea. This young bull was overall champion of the Royal Highland Show and his calves certainly display his charactistics of quality and style and will surely continue Nimmo’s winning record in the Scottish herds competitions.
Wednesday: An early start for the long trip up to Harry Emslies farm at the North end of Aberdeenshire. Up along the East coast of Scotland we drove for 2 hours through arable land of corn and potatoes with harvest in full swing. Harry Emslie and his partner Lynwen Evans are establishing a new herd in this costal farm and bought the Ballymoney herd from county Wicklow to form part of the nucleus. The cow Ballymoney Veronica, a Highlander daughter won the Supreme Limousin Championship at the Royal Welsh Show in July and certainly looked a picture with her heifer calf at foot. Part of Harry’s business is producing commercial sucklers for sale every year. We were shown a field of about 50 black Lm x heifers, all R+ or U grade, about 500 KG running with a black Limousin bull. Some of us had seen this bull the year before in Brian Jones farm in Sennybridge inWales and he had certainly grown on to be a tremendous animal. Time to head back south but not before a BBQ of Limousin steaks and toast of Famous Grouse, it being the 12 of August.
If the name Angus is synonymous with cattle then our visit to the Adams family at Glamis in Angus proved the point. Breeding cattle for generations, Rob Adams has a herd of Charolois, Red and Black Limousin. The Scottish commercial suckler farmer wants black cows and the black limousins have been developed to produce these stock. Originally imported from Canada, they have been improved to produce cattle of exceptional quality. The young black bulls which we saw had length and muscling equal to the reds, but a higher growth rate. For sale to commercial suckler farmers, these bulls can make up to £12,000 in the Perth bull sales. If only our suckler farmers had the confidence to pay this kind of money for bulls! Out in the fields we saw Charolois and Limousin cows all weighing about a ton in what is obviously a truly a magnificent farm.
Our third and final day started with a visit to the Ronick herd of the Dick family beside Sterling. Running about 250 Limousin cows along with 2000 acres of tillage crops David Dick gave up a morning when he should have been cutting corn to show us around his herd. Renowned for the quality of their cows we were shown field after field of huge, quality, stylish, placid cows with calves at foot, the sort of cows that everyone would dream of owning. This included the champion cow of the Royal Highland Show who just stood out from the herd as a cow of quite exceptional quality. While walking around the herd I asked David Dick why he chose Limousin cattle. He said that he used to buy in a lot of store cattle for fattening. One year he bought a few stores of a new breed called Limousin along with the usual Charalois and Angus. The Limousins ate less feed, weighed and graded better and left more profit so he decided to breed a few. It went on from there to be the renowned herd that it is today.
Our final visit was to Robert Graham’s herd beside historic Sterling city. Robert Grahams main business is a dairy company. His grandfather started selling milk door to door with a horse and cart in the late 1930’s and this has now grown to be the biggest independent dairy in Scotland selling normal, organic, and Jersey milk and their own brand of creams and ice cream of which we were given a very tasty sample. They milk about 300 Jersey cows which are a sight to behold. The farm manager Denis Gall showed us around the herd which included their senior stock bull Samy. A producer of quality bulls and heifers he was never beaten in any competition he was entered in. we also saw young stock by a bull called Ushuaia which seemed to be of super quality with length,muscle and plenty of style. These young bulls went on to sell for very good money in the new Sterling mart which is only 2 miles from the farm and replaces the now closed Perth mart as the main sale centre for pedigree cattle in Scotland. So we finished our trip to Scotland with much to ponder. The varying farm typed from high hill to exceptional lowland. The quality of all the cattle we saw and defiantly the general size of cows which are bigger that the average cows here. The level of stockmanship of the farmers with generations of experience poured into the cattle and the farms which they obviously love and the courtesy, openness and hospitality of all the families we visited which made a truly memorable trip for us all.