Scottish cattle breeder Alasdair Houston, of Gretna Green, Dumfriesshire has been elected chairman of the British Charolais Cattle Society’s council of management. He succeeds Martin Donaghy, of Dungannon, County Tyrone, who is stepping down after completing his two year term of office.
Alasdair, who owns the 50 cow Gretnahouse herd based at Gretna Green, has bred a number of high profile show and sale cattle including Gretnahouse Ubeauty selling for 25,000gns and setting a new centre millennium breed record at Carlisle in 2004. Alasdair’s father was one of the early pioneers of Charolais cattle in the UK having identified the breed for its superior growth characteristics and introduced it to Gretna House in 1967.
“It is a great honour to be elected chairman in our 50th year. The breed has come a long way but we are not resting on our laurels. Today’s top bulls can offer the holy grail of easy calving with unrivalled weight for age and excellent conformation. AHDB data has officially confirmed a 10% premium for Charolais bred steers and heifers over other continental sired calves. The modern Charolais is the obvious choice as the ultimate terminal sire. I invite commercial producers currently using other sires to try a modern British Charolais.” He adds: “Our current focus is on continuing progress with great attention to further improvements to gestation length and improved calving ease without sacrificing the Charolais weight advantage.”
Outgoing chairman Martin Donaghy commented: “Charolais is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it was the first ever Continental beef breed to be imported and led the beef revolution.” He continued: “Furthermore it continues to be in the driving seat as the leading continental beef terminal sire with continued demand both in the pedigree and commercial sectors. In 2011 717 bulls sold to an average of £4,612 and the sale of Barnsford Ferny selling at Stirling for 70,000gns setting a new breed record.
“Beef finishers consistently pay a premium for Charolais bred store cattle as highlighted by the AHDB data, and as Single Farm Payments are reduced it becomes evident that Charolais bulls will be increasingly required as the terminal sire of choice in suckled calf enterprises.” Martin continued: “The sales for Charolais females have also been very encouraging with 40 breeding females with calves at foot averaging £5,028 at the Wesley dispersal in October. These sales encourage new breeders to join the society and 50 years on, there is still a steady flow of new Charolais members with 72 joining in 2011”.
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