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Stackyard News Oct 2012

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Blue Grey Cattle Prove Potential

As a result of a pioneering independent breed specific costings study The Blue Grey Cattle Group announce today that this breed out performs by some considerable amount the benchmark for Hill Suckler Herds as published last month in the 2011 QMS Report.

Traditional Blue Grey Cattle are bred through crossing a Galloway cow with a Whitebred Shorthorn bull.

Blue Grey cattle

The QMS national hill suckler herd average is a £182/head loss and the QMS national upland suckler herd average is £112/head loss. In the Blue Grey Cattle Group’s study the sample of Blue Greys achieved an £84/head profit.

In this sensational study published recently, Blue Grey cattle which are often overlooked by today’s farmer, have been championed for their commercial ability. The study, commissioned by the Blue Grey Cattle Group and conducted by the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), puts the hybrid at the top of the class in every significant way for farmers looking for a profitable breeding hill cow. The average profit per Blue Grey cow is over £260 higher than the QMS national hill for suckler cows (QMS Scotland 2011 Report).

The recently published QMS National hill and upland suckler cow costings now provide a benchmark against which the superb Blue Grey costings can be compared and this report has been issued just a month before one of the biggest Blue Grey sales in the country - Harrison & Hetherington’s major Autumn Blue Grey heifer sales held on the 30th and 31st of October at the Newcastleton auction

The SAC produced a report on the costings for herds where the Blue Grey is the main cow breed, which explains the key reasons for the excellent results. - “This is a cattle choice that is low cost, hardy, maternal and, most important of all, profitable”.

Traditional hybrid, Blue Grey Cattle are bred through crossing a Galloway cow with a Whitebred Shorthorn bull. Their supporters have always found them a low cost breed, and are hopeful that they will make a resurgence in popularity as the costs of oil, feed, veterinary & medicine and straw continues to rise.

The Blue Grey Cattle Group hope through the report compiled they can give detail to farmers looking at a more cost effective hill breed of cattle.

The major findings of the report revealed the Blue Grey breed to offer:

  • Excellent fertility and an ability to cross with any bull
  • Easy calving
  • Abundant milk to feed the quickly growing continental calf
  • An ability to keep and maintain flesh even in the roughest out-wintering conditions
  • Longevity
  • Natural high health
  • Easy care
  • Established conservation grazing credentials

In times of rising oil and feed prices and ever increasing veterinary bills, hill farmers need to be thinking about what they can do differently. With their low cost, minimal management and a high output these cows should be a hill farmer’s dream.

The SAC report revealed veterinary and medical costs per Blue Grey head averaged out at £12.59, while the National Hill average was £49.00. Age of cow at cull was a remarkable 13 years compared to the National Hill average of 7 years. Most impressively were calving percentages averaging 92% compared to the National Hill average of 84%, with the ability to mother well and produce excellent growth rates.

Chairman of the Blue Grey Cattle Group, Angus Murray of Sewingshields, Haydon Bridge, commented on the direction of the Blue Grey as a commercial breed choice,

“Great numbers reared, very low veterinary, medical and feed costs and abundant milk to feed the larger cross continental calf, are the main reasons for the profitable costings concluded in the SAC report.”

“The choice of cattle breed should not be a matter of fashion, but a matter of profitability, suitability and ease of management”.

The independent costings for Blue Grey herds and the great stock on display at agricultural shows this year, have both given cause for thought to many farmers.

Operations Director for Harrison & Hetherington, David Pritchard commented on the upcoming sale and the Blue Grey breed.

“We have seen high prices for breeding stock this Autumn and early indications are that this will follow through. The Blue Grey Cattle has a strong following nationally and regularly attracts buyers from Devon, Cornwall and across the length and breadth of Scotland.”

The annual sale Blue Grey bulling heifers and heifer calves will be at Newcastleton on Tuesday 30th October, with the annual sale of suckled bullock and heifer calves including Galloways and continentals on Wednesday 31st October.

Harrison & Hetherington encourage vendors to have their animals BVD screened and vaccinated prior to sale to maximise confidence from buyers. The report is not in the public domain, however anyone wishing to obtain a copy of the report should contact the Blue Grey Cattle Group secretary on

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