The Beef Shorthorn Cattle Society has registered its highest number
of calves for four decades – almost matching the number in
1960 before the introduction of continental breeds to the UK.
The increasing popularity of the breed, which is reflected not only
in increased calf registrations but also in membership and the number
of pedigree herds, was reported to the society’s pre-Perth
bull sale annual meeting on Sunday (February 3).
In 2007, 504 members registered more than 2,000 calves from 302 herds.
This compares with a decade ago of approximately 200 members registering
In 1960, five years after the beef and dairy sections of the herdbook
were divided, there were 2,204 registrations.
Over the last decade there has been a steady growth in interest in
the Beef Shorthorn which, although traditionally recognised for its
maternal qualities, is now being regarded as an all-round commercial
Society president David Macleod, of Glen Gloy Farms, Letter Finlay,
Spean Bridge, Invernessshire, as well as highlighting these figures
to the annual meeting, said over the last three years the number
of herds which have been performance recorded with the ABRI Breedplan
system had increased more than four-fold with 53 included in the
The society has also introduced in the latest BLUP run a new ‘self
replacing’ index to evaluate the breed’s maternal traits
such as milkiness, calving ease and gestation length whereas the
emphasis in the past has been on terminal sire traits of growth rates
an carcase characteristics.
As well as encouraging its members to take up the more sophisticated,
but no more complicated Breedplan system adopted by the society in
2004, Mr Macleod said pedigree breeders were being urged to take
up herd health recording schemes.
As part of that policy, the society is insisting on vendors exhibiting
health pen cards at official sales.
Members attending the annual meeting were also asked for their views
on the proposal for compulsory health tests for all animals entered
for the February 2009 Perth sale – a step not believed to have
been taken by any other UK beef society. Buyers would then be confident
of the health status of the Beef Shorthorns they were buying.
“The increasing popularity of the Beef Shorthorn is largely
attributable to the breed being recognised not only for its maternal
traits but also as an all-round commercial beef breed which can be
crossed with continental and other traditional breeds to suit a variety
of different systems,” he said.
“UK beef producers are moving towards a more cost effective
and easier farming system and the Beef Shorthorn which is easy care
with low inputs required for feeding and labour as well as having
good fertility and ease of calving fits the bill, not to mention
its longer replacement cycle,” added Mr Macleod.
The Beef Shorthorn Society is now making extensive plans for when
it hosts the Beef Shorthorn World Conference in 2010.
Both David Macleod and James Playfair Hannay, of Kelso, were re-elected
for a further year as president and vice-president respectively.
Other directors re-elected at the annual meeting were: North Scotland,
Major John Gibb, Blairgowrie, Perth; South Scotland, Donald Biggar,
Castle Douglas; North England and Wales, Rob Paisley, Ilkley; South
England, Mark Holmes, Wolverhampton; Northern Ireland and Ireland,
James Nelson, Larne, Co Antrim.
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