Leading north east Charolais cattle breeder, Steve Nesbitt will judge the entry of 275 bulls and 60 females at the breed society's official autumn show in Perth on Wednesday 26 October, prior to them coming under the hammer the following day.
"I'll be sifting out bulls that have shape, size and correctness," says Steve, who will be making an 550 mile round trip to Perth from his family's 200 acre mixed unit at Alwent Hall, Winston, County Durham which carries the 40 cow pedigree Alwent Charolais herd together a 120 ewe pedigree flock of Texels.
Steve is no stranger to the Perth ring where he has been among the final line up on several occasions in the last 20 years with Alwent bulls including last October's junior and reserve overall champion and which have sold to a top of 13,000gns with Alwent Osprey. "We are firm believers in selling through the ring in Perth and Carlisle, however in the last couple of years we've had an unprecedented demand for bulls at the farm gate," he says.
"Suckler men are becoming more aware that Charolais sired calves demonstrate that weight for age that no other terminal sire can match. Charolais crosses are most cost effective, regardless of appetite, simply because they have that genetic ability to convert feed at a much higher rate and at an earlier age than any others," Steve explains. "That's a real benefit in the new world with out payments in which finishers are adopting more intensive systems to realize their animals' potential and subsequently higher gross output."
He adds: "The breed is also starting to have a bigger role to play in more extensive suckler beef systems, those requiring less labour and other inputs which we're seeing being adopted under the new regime. Apart from having the performance edge in a low input system, Charolais cross calves have a quiet temperament, and over the years great strides have been made in improving ease of calving, and through BLUP we are able to recognize those easier calving lines."
Growth rate, fleshing ability and calving ease are the main performance traits the Nesbitts, Steve, brother, David and father, Doug have carefully selected for in the last five years in their Alwent herd. "We focus on delivering bulls that match the requirements of the suckler man. We offer naturally fed bulls with an average 400 day daily liveweight gain of 1.65kg to 1.7kg," he says. The Alwent herd is among the breed leaders in the north east with all its progeny heading towards being within the breed's top 15% for both Beef and Calving Values. The Nesbitt's former herd sire, Baggrave Minstrel has had a major influence at Alwent and left a number of top flight progeny. In 2002, they made a joint purchase of the 28,000gns Perth champion, Maerdy Primeminister to maintain herd scale, and the herd's latest addition is Hallbankgate United who was carefully selected for growth, with a Beef Value of CH34 and 400 day weight of 770kg and also calving ease, CV+1.
Steve who is one of the current North of England representatives of the British Charolais Cattle Society's council of management adds: "We established the herd 25 years ago as a hobby, however it has evolved to become a serious commercial venture that nowadays makes up a significant part of our overall farm income. In fact Charolais is now by far my biggest interest and the herd is here to stay until I pack up farming."
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