A new bull was the four legged star attraction at the recent Kintyre Monitor Farm meeting, part of the national programme run by Quality Meat Scotland, at Glenbarr Farms, between Tarbert and Campbeltown.
At the previous meeting monitor farmer Duncan Macalister, who runs a herd of 140 predominantly spring-calving Aberdeen Angus cows put to Aberdeen-Angus bulls, had said he felt his cows were becoming too pure and that action was needed to boost milk production. He had invited suggestions for an outcross breed.
Few had suggested a Hereford bull, consequently the majority of the community group, which included farmers from the islands of Bute and Islay, were surprised when Duncan Macalister introduced them to
Ervie L1 Achiever 91161F. This 21-month-old Hereford bull was purchased the previous month for £5,200 at John Douglas’s on-farm sale at Stranraer. Although born onto Scottish soil, the bull has American genetics, imported as an embryo from Montana.
Quizzed as to why he had purchased a Hereford, Mr Macalister replied: “I want a native, easy-to- handle breed which, when crossed with my Aberdeen Angus cows, will produce replacement females which will out-winter, be fertile, calve easily and produce quick growing calves.”
Mr Macalister plans, if all goes well, to retain daughters of his Hereford bull which will then be crossed back to Aberdeen Angus, with the resulting daughters going back to a Hereford bull, creating a rotational cross of Hereford and Aberdeen Angus – “Black Baldies”.
A fan of Estimated Breeding Value (EBV) figures, Mr Macalister admits that basing his past selection of Aberdeen Angus bulls on good growth figures has probably cost his herd milk. He hopes that his new Hereford bull breeds true to his EBV figures.
“The bull is Plus 16 for milk, putting him in the top one per cent of the breed,” he said.
“He’s also Plus 58 for Growth and significantly, Plus 1.5 for scrotal size, which puts him in the top five per cent. And size does matter! A higher EBV here indicates higher fertility – semen and quantity. Also daughters of bulls with larger testicles come into season younger.”
Fertility and health had been among the reasons Mr Macalister had chosen to purchase at an on-farm sale instead of the wider selection of a collective auction.
“I was able to see the farm where the bull had been produced – a one man band, working with 160 cows. Also, the bull had been semen tested prior to sale as well as having been tested clear and vaccinated for BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea). So once the bull was out of my on-farm isolation he was ready to roll!”
He added: “Thanks to embryo transfer and AI, cattle genetics can be easily transported around the world these days, giving us in Scotland the pick of international bloodlines but with minimal health risks. This bull, born in Scotland, but with American sire and dam with tip top EBVs for what I’m looking for, is a living example.
“Also, Scotland is clear of TB (Bovine Tuberculosis), another reason why I was so determined to buy a bull in Scotland.”
The next meeting of the Kintyre Monitor Farm will be held in August.
For further information, please contact either of the joint facilitators:-
For general information on monitor farms, plus detailed reports of meetings:- www.qmscotland.co.uk/monitorfarms.