Adam and Ruth Greenhalgh with daughter Molly
and young pedigree Bazadaise bulls at Heggerscale.
A holiday in France set the Greenhalgh family on their new beef
venture in the foothills of the Pennines in Cumbria.
Adam Greenhalgh and his wife Ruth were spending a holiday with
Adam’s father Stephen in south West France where he has a
home when they spotted the region’s native Bazadaise cattle
and were quick to take note of the breed’s attributes.
Almost two years ago Adam and Ruth, who works part-time, began
the process of establishing their own pedigree Bazadaise herd with
maiden heifers at their severely disadvantaged hill farm, Heggerscale,
Kaber, near Kirkby Stephen.
Originally from Lancashire, the family has farmed at Heggerscale
for 17 years, latterly Stephen spending several months each year
in France using his skills as a builder to renovate a house and
Before foot and mouth in 2001 the Greenhalghs ran a herd of 20
pedigree Limousins and 15 crossbreds on 125 acres along with a
flock of 420 Swaledales with stints on the nearby Kaber fell.
Of the flock, 120 Swaledales are bred pure with 150 crossed with
the Bluefaced Leicester for Mule lamb production, selling through
Kirkby Stephen Mart. There are a further 150 Texel cross and Mule
ewes which are put to the Texel which are finished off grass on
They have since taken the opportunity to increase the acreage
to 300 acres with the purchase of extra neighbouring land and now
the entire ring-fenced farm includes 70 acres of what had been
unfertilised land entered in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme
for the last three years.
Through the scheme they have restored 500 metres of walling – half
of what is required – as well as thousands of metres of fencing
and hedgerow planting, re-instating all of the farm’s field
The re-stocked beef herd numbers 65 suckler cows which calve from
the third week in March through to the end of May, all to the Bazadaise.
The herd includes 20 pedigree Heggerscale Bazadaise cows – mostly
bought as heifers from breed society chairman Roy Gostling, of
Norfolk - with the remainder mainly Belgian Blue crosses.
The intention is to be able to sell eight to 10 pedigree bulls
a year – one two year old bull sold recently for £2,000
off the farm which Adam Greenhalgh is happy with considering there
was no necessity to halter train the bull and it received no extra
feed unlike preparations for a sale ring.
All the crossbred calves are sold through Kirkby Stephen Mart
at 10 to 12 months old, having until now claimed the first beef
“Farmers, who generally are reluctant to change breeds because
of the demands of the marketplace, are starting to notice when
I take cross-bred calves to Kirkby Stephen” said Adam.
Bazadaise cross heifers
“The Bazadaise, which has double muscling, crosses well
on most breeds but it gives a particularly good calf on the Belgian
Blue. However pure-bred cattle are very beefy. One bull we had
kept as a potential breeder we sold finished at 20 months old and
he classified E3 and made £900.”
Ten month old bullocks have sold to £675 through Kirkby
Stephen while a 14 month old heifer made £740, the sale’s
third top price. The crossbred cattle are sold from mid January
through to May.
“They are easy calving, which is a big plus. Out of the
65 cows calved we only lost one set of twins which was through
no one’s fault. I think that was pretty good. The cows are
brilliant mothers and they are very quiet which is worth a lot.
“We wanted to breed cattle which were not in over-supply.
The last two bulls we have sold at 13 months old when they were
not yet ready to work and there seems to be demand for more.
“Because there is not a vast genetic pool of the breed in
the UK we wanted to start the herd with the best we could get so
we have imported a bull from France,” said Adam.
The bull, Oscar, now six years old, had an unbeaten show record
in France and was spotted at the Bordeaux Show by Stephen. Adam
and Ruth liked what they saw of him on a video and wasted no time
in going to France to buy him.
Oscar helped showcase the Bazadaise breed at Penrith Show in 2004.
Although there were no classes for showing, Oscar was paraded in
the main ring and other Cumbrian breeders Richard Carruthers, of
Bampton, displayed young bulls along with crossbred calves from
Les Grainger, of Eamont Bridge, Penrith, on a stand at the event.
Oscar is now at Lindsays AI, near Carlisle, and the Greenhalghs
are planning to sell semen both in the UK and for export worldwide,
with the exception of America.
The 20 pedigrees and half the commercial cows are in calf to the
prolific French bred bull.
The plan is to increase the pedigree herd to 40-plus cows and
to sell pedigree heifers, for which there is also a big demand
as well as for the bulls, although a percentage of commercial cattle
will be kept which helps to market the Bazadaise’ commercial
“We have seen a number of pedigree herds in France and we
liked the conformation and length of the cattle as well as their
easy calving and longevity.
“We saw one herd where the ages of the cows ranged from
first and second calvers to 15 year old cows which you couldn’t
tell apart from the younger ones. The breed is also very hardy
with herds being run up into the Pyrenees,” said Adam, whose
land at Heggerscale runs from 900 to 1,000ft above sea level.
Heggerscale is a wet farm with clay land and the medium sized
cattle do not churn up the fields yet still have the ability to
produce a good calf.
Winters are long and cattle are cubicle-housed from mid October
through to the beginning of May, mostly calving inside. They are
fed clamp silage with first cut off 70 acres and second cut off
45 acres and after calving receive mineral supplement.
The pure bred calves are creep fed from July. The cows are grazed
in two lots, rotated around six fields until they eat it off so
that they always have fresh grass in front of them which helps
with calf growth.
“The Bazadaise cattle have lived up to our expectations
and I am very critical about my cattle,” he added.
As a preventative measure, all the cattle are vaccinated against
leptospirosis and BVD and eventually the herd will be closed.
© Copyright 2005 Jennifer
MacKenzie All Rights