The Blelack herd prefix which is synonymous with top quality
pedigree cattle breeding now lends itself to a herd of Beef
|Graeme Massie and
Blelack Farm, Dinnet near Aboyne in Aberdeenshire
was put on the map 42 years ago when Neil Massie established
his noted Aberdeen Angus herd.
Several years later he was one of the early UK breeders of
Charolais cattle and Neil’s son Graeme today runs 110
Angus and 140 pedigree Charolais cows alongside his recently
founded herd of Beef Shorthorns.
“I have always liked the Beef Shorthorn and probably
because of disease problems, people are going to be more inclined
to run closed herds of both pedigree and commercial cattle,” said
Graeme Massie who with his wife Annie has nine year old twins,
Jack and Hayley.
“I’m not sure that some of the continental breeds
used as suckler cows are as suited to Scotland’s west
coast in particular.
“The Shorthorn is structurally very correct and has
a bit more skin to withstand the wetter coastal climate. They
are also known for their longevity.
“They are so docile they are ideal for today’s
economic climate without subsidies where producers need to
run larger herds of over 200 cows with less staff.
“We also need suckler cows that can make milk cheaply – which
is what the Shorthorn can do.”
Blelack’s 750 acres runs from 750ft to 1,000ft above
sea level and the sandy soil allows most of the cows to be
outwintered on the higher ground.
The two long-established beef herds are run very much on
commercial lines, with half the Charolais calving in the autumn
and the remainder in the spring along with the Angus herd
from March to May.
Graeme and Neil Massie now plan to use their expertise to
slowly build up the Beef Shorthorn herd which was started
three years ago, with the aim of producing top quality animals
to rival their other breeds.
Blelack achieved in 2004 what was the highest price for an
Aberdeen Angus since the 1960s when they sold the supreme
champion, the April 2002 Blelack Ellerman for the top price
of 28,000 guineas. The herd has achieved seven Perth champions
in nine years.
The Charolais herd has had three Perth champions and a top
price of 21,000gns.
bought from Christopher Marler.
Blelack’s first Beef Shorthorn was bought for 4,800gns
at Perth at the autumn 2003 sale from Christopher Marler,
of Olney, Buckinghamshire – Blythsome Jut with her bull
calf Wavendon Empire Maker. The cow goes back to one of the
breed’s top herds, Uppermill.
The first cow is now 12 years old and the sale of her bull
calf in Perth at 22 months old at 5,200gns more than paid
for the initial investment.
Since then to establish around half a dozen foundation females,
other private purchases of similar bloodlines have been made
from the Wavendon herd with the intention of finding two or
three of the best cow families.
“We intend to take the establishment of the herd quite
slowly and concentrate on a few good lines and run a herd
of 20 to 25 cows,” said Graeme Massie.
“With the type of cattle we have bred with our Charolais
and Angus herds we have always gone for power, with great
locomotion and strength of character.
“And just like with the other breeds, we’re also
looking in the Shorthorn for an animal that has got scale,
without being over the top, with power and muscle and real
flesh about it.
“We have always bred animals which are capable of breeding
really good quality commercial cows and we’re looking
for the same standards in the Shorthorn.”
Numbers of Beef Shorthorns and breeders are on the increase
and Graeme Massie believes that the time and money spent will
|The 16 month old
ET bull Blelack Emperor out of Myrtle by Dust Buster.
Neil Massie has also been to visit Beef Shorthorn herds in
Canada and embryos were brought back from two females – Myrtle
and Rose. Myrtle embryos by Dust Buster have been a big success
producing four heifers, and Rose was flushed to El Benito.
A total of 13 bulls and six heifers have been born so far.
Dust Buster, a very correct and muscular bull, was the Beef
Shorthorn champion at Farmfair International in Alberta, selected
by Scottish judge Donald Biggar.
The Blelack herd’s eight cows and seven heifers have
all been served with a 16 month old ET Dust Buster son out
The emphasis on breeding the Shorthorn for its female qualities.
Both the established herds have been performance recorded
for 30 years and it is likely that the Shorthorns will be
from 2007. Shorthorn heifers are calved at two years old or
The outwintered females are fed home-grown ammonia treated
barley straw grown on 90 acres, switching to grass silage
after calving. Calf creep is kept to a minimum and only during
the few weeks running up to housing in the autumn.
The calves are weaned in October with the bull calves being
fed a diet of straw, silage, oats and dark grains for the
winter. Bulls not suitable for breeding are castrated.
They are turned out in the spring to grass when bulls for
the Perth October and February sales as well as the home market
© Copyright 2006 Jennifer
MacKenzie All Rights
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