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Stackyard News Feb 08

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    Beef Shorthorn Breed on a High

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.


beef shorthorn cattle

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 416 calves,

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 breed.

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 scheme.

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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