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MILKY, FERTILE SIMMENTAL FEMALES IMPROVING GROWTH AND WEIGHT FOR AGE IN BALGRAY HILL COMMERCIAL HERD
Snapshot commercial herd feature on David and Rosemarie Cornthwaite, Balgray Hill, Lockerbie as they prepare for the first part of their fast-approaching commercial herd dispersal sale at Lockerbie Mart on Tuesday 22nd June.
Beef producers will soon have the chance to purchase top-quality, well-bred cattle from a leading commercial herd based in South West Scotland. David and Rosemarie Cornthwaite of Balgray Hill, Lockerbie, are set to disperse 120 Limousin cross and Simmental cross heifers and cows with Limousin and British Blue calves at foot from their large-scale beef suckler herd on Tuesday, June 22 at Lockerbie Mart.
Featuring top Simmental genetics, the offering includes 85 first to third calvers and 35 fourth calvers and above, as well as four of the herd’s stock bulls which are all proven sires boasting tremendous bloodlines.
These include a Simmental named Newbiemains Daz; two British Blues, Greystone Limelight, and Greystone Meric; and the 19-month-old Limousin, Spedling Producer, a son of the former show cow Maybe Cute.
The Cornthwaites first introduced the Simmental to their breeding policy 13 years ago and they have been most impressed with the breed’s ability to produce a functional suckler cow which goes on to rear a strong calf with good growth rates.
“We buy in Limousin cross Friesian heifers from a closed herd and bull them to a Limousin to breed three-quarter Limousins which we use as herd replacements,” said David, who has been farming at Balgray Hill for three decades.
“The best of these replacement females are then bulled to the Simmental to give us an additional crossing, before being put back in-calf to Limousin or British Blue bulls.
“Although we use a variation of beef breeds, the Simmental is a staple part of our herd and has helped put milk back into our females and improve growth rates in our calves, particularly the males which are sold through the store ring.”
Rosemarie added: “We find Simmental females mature quicker and have more milk at a younger age which has also allowed us to calve heifers at two-years-old, compared to the Limousin crosses at three years of age. This is a huge benefit to our beef herd as the females are productive at a younger age, producing more calves overall.
“The Limousin and Simmental cross works well as you get the milk, shape and good maternal traits in the females.”
While the majority of the heifer calves are kept as herd replacements, the bull calves and heifers not suitable for breeding are sold at nine to 10 months of age through Carlisle, Kirkby Stephen, Lockerbie and Stirling (UA).
Despite selling Simmental-sired calves through store rings in areas where Limousins feature strongly, the yearling cattle from Balgray Hill have met a fantastic trade in the past, with bullocks selling at £1300-£1320 and heifers reaching tops of £1200 at nine to 10 months-old weighing 430kg-500kg.
Balgray Hill have also enjoyed success in pre-sale shows at Borderway Mart, Carlisle, having stood first, second and third in the pens of four at the annual continental store sale held in March.
“These calves are a good weight for age and are easy fleshing animals so they will go and perform well for the finisher,” said David. “It’s a great advantage being able to cross the Simmental cross females to virtually any breed of bull such as the British Blue which produces sweet calves with shape and style.”
Top-quality stock bulls have been purchased in over the years, with all four destined for next week’s sale having bred consistently well for the herd.
“We couldn’t fault the bulls for their temperament while they have been with us, particularly the Simmentals which have been easily handled and fit to work at a great age,” said David.
“The father of our nine-year-old bull Newbiemains Daz, was Newbiemains Apache, which we also owned. Both of these bulls have been very prolific.”
All heifers and cows destined for sale on Tuesday, 22nd June are free of the bull and the herd maintains a high health status, being BVD accredited, Johnes Level 2 and TB 4 (last tested December 2020).
The herd also vaccinates for Lepto & BVD and all calves have been dehorned.
David concluded: “Over the years, other vendors in the south west and Cumbria have shown interest in our calves and were keen to know more about the Simmental cross females we breed and the policy we follow.
“I reckon there’s a secure future for the Simmental as both a maternal and terminal sire, producing milky, fertile replacements and easy fleshing cattle that can be sold at a good weight for age.”