The foundation females for the herd came from the Coldrochie herd and heifers were also purchased from Glenisla, Dunsyre and Burnfoot.
Five cows were calved last year and one of the calves took the prize for the best Beef Shorthorn calf at Perth Show and the stock bull, Dunsyre Topclass, was champion at Fife and Perth shows in class which gave Adrian the confidence that he was selecting the right cattle for the new herd.
The herd was further increased with purchases last autumn and there will be 28 calves on the ground this year with 32 breeding cows in the Loak herd. Optimum herd numbers will be between 40 and 50 breeding females.
The aim is for the herd to be closed as it has been in the SAC Biobest high health scheme for three years and is BVD, IBR, Johnes and Leptospirosis clear. The first breeding stock will be sold off the farm this August. They will be some heifers from last year’s calf crop which will be sold in calf to either stock bull Dunsyre Topclass or an AI sire.
Cattle will be sold through the ring for the first time next year with full accreditation.
“I definitely see my future in farming. I’m fortunate with the land I have available to rent but it will probably mean trying to buy a farm or get a long-term lease to cope with the increasing numbers of cattle,” said Adrian.
“My aim is to produce commercial cattle which are good mothers and milkers with fleshing abilities and good temperament, not a great big fancy animal which will make a lot of money but one that will produce good crossbred cattle and thrive on fodder.
“I think there is a real future for traditional breeds, especially post-Brexit. As an outsider looking in, it’s a shame that farmers have had to try to get blood out of a stone just to keep their heads above water. Our cattle do very well on limited grazing and forage and the weight gain of the calf’s is testament to that. We supplement winter fodder with small amounts of protein and vitamins just to keep the everything growing and moving forward but with the requirement now towards lower kill weights I don’t see the point wasting money feeding huge beasts”.
With ease of management uppermost as the herd increases in size and mainly only himself to do the work part time, Adrian has found Z Tags from QuickTag to be the most reliable, using them for his cattle for the last two years and buying them through Carrs Billington in Perth.
“The tags we used for the previous two years were brittle and they would sometimes break off which meant we had to order replacements. Even when we were putting them in the calves’ ears often the pin would snap,” said Adrian, who also uses Z Tags sheep tag range.
“Although Z Tags cost a bit more they are very easy to apply. The applicator is very easy to use so I can tag a calf within 24 hours of birth and they don’t seem to notice it has been done.
Ideally, we want to tag the animal once and it stays in for life. Unlike the tags we used previously, Z Tags don’t fade so they can easily be read at a distance after time. It’s not the size of the tag but the clarity of the lettering that matters.
We use Z Tag ID tags and management tags and there are various sizes and a range of colours giving plenty of choice to suit your own requirements. We use ID tags in left and right ears with a larger management tag in the right ear giving us our breeding information.
Z Tags definitely have better retention than any other tag I have seen in use. They are easy to use and they are easy to apply to young calves,” said Adrian.