A judging seminar hosted by Beef Shorthorn breeder Carey Coombs
at Carnwath extolled the merits of pedigree beef recording which
is being demanded by newcomers to the resurging traditional breed.
Members judging cows and calves in the pens.
Around 100 people from as far afield as Orkney and Devon saw Mr
Coombs’ 100-cow Dunsyre pedigree herd with 159 followers
which is run on commercial lines at Weston Farm, Dunsyre, near
The event on Sunday (June 10) also combined the judging seminar
during which Luing and Simmental breeder Robert McNee, of Woodend
Farm, Armadale, East Lothian made a visual assessment of young
bulls, yearling heifers and pairs of breeding cows which was then
compared with the animals’ Breedplan Estimated Breeding Values.
Mr McNee’s judging of the cattle generally followed closely
the genetic evaluation system’s rating of economically important
traits and this was then discussed in an open forum.
Breedplan also gave a scanning demonstration for eye muscle area,
fat depth and marbling, an important trait for native beef breeds.
Mr Coombs began performance recording cattle before he established
his spring and autumn calving Dunsyre herd 18 years ago.
“Many people view breeding as an art but if you can use
these values which you can measure to help the art of breeding
then you should do so. It’s such a powerful tool,” he
Having visited Australia 10 years ago during which time he met
the developers of the Breedplan system which he believed at the
time was “streets ahead” of what was happening in the
UK, he said he was delighted that the society was now using this
“Given the international connections that the Beef Shorthorn
breed has it seems sensible for a small country like the UK to
link into the developments and massive investments that the Australians
have made,” he added.
The 900-acre Weston Farm is run very much as a commercial upland
unit and Mr Coombs requires “robust cows that work”.
All the cows are outwintered and steers and other animals not
sold for breeding are finished, selling either to Waitrose through
Dovecote Park or more recently to a farm shop near Edinburgh
Breedplan, which has been in operation for 20 years to offer breeders
the potential to accelerate genetic progress and tighten up breeding
operations, has been implemented as the national beef recording
scheme in Australia, New Zealand, Namibia, Thailand and the Philippines
and its use is increasing in the US, Canada, the UK, Hungary, South
America and South Africa.
Since it began in the UK three years ago breed societies using
the service include the Beef Shorthorn, Angus, Simmental, Belgian
Blue, South Devon, Hereford, Murray Grey and the Charolais from
Breedplan’s development officer in the UK Barbara Webster
who was at Sunday’s event said both the Beef Shorthorn and
Aberdeen Angus societies had doubled the number of members performance
recording their cattle since taking on the Breedplan system.
“Performance recording is becoming even more important,
particularly for breeds like the Beef Shorthorn which are enjoying
renewed popularity backed up by successful sales where buyers are
looking to back up their purchases with EBVs,” she said.
“Because the Breedplan evaluation system is used in many
other countries it has advantages for both imports and exports
of cattle and breeders can buy with confidence,” she added.
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