Our herd was established in 1993 when at Castle Douglas sale, three year old daughter asked her daddy to buy her a stripy calf….as they say the rest is history.
Previously Robert and Jennifer ran a commercial herd of Black Galloways and put a Limousin bull on them. Robert initially went into Galloways alongside his Limousin herd to graze off the steep limestone bank land at 1100ft that the lims couldn’t handle. The Belties do the job just grand now and we currently run 22 spring calving cows and 11 backend calvers, all pedigree Belted Galloways. We retain all young stock, finishing the bullocks and any miss-marked heifers. As we have been organic since 1999 we don’t sell through the market so animals are sold dead weight to either Dawn Meats in Bridlington or to St Merryn Foods Merthyr Tydfil at 36 months. We also started a few years ago selling the beef in boxes containing an 8th of the beast, so customers get a bit of everything from front to back. Without much advertising this has increased over the years as people tend to want more once they’ve tasted Beltie and then ‘tell a friend’.
We pick out any heifers we want to retain in the herd and sell the rest at one of the society sales or privately, we usually sell them in calf. Our breeding policy is to calve them at 3 so they have plenty of time to grow, spending the majority of their time on rough grazing, it also means they fit right back in with the calving pattern.
Our herd mainly goes back to a cow called Grandycroft Morag who was sired by Burnside David and came from Mrs Joan Wilson in Cumbria. We have one old girl left, born in 1997, her daughter Grandycroft Marvellous by Broadmeadows Lennie. Other bulls we have used over the years are Ardwell Winston, Barnearnie Walter, Poplar Incredible (Red), Saltway Adam, Speddoch Hubert, Heifers just gone to the bull and everything down to calves at foot are all by Dunay Tavish, current stock bulls are Maybeck Bracken and Park Maestro.
The farm is approximately 300 acres, of this half is hill land not passable even by a quad so walking and dogs are the way we work. We make all our own hay off the good ground with some beautiful long established hay meadows, and also some bale silage. We only use corn as a treat to assist with gathering cows and also for the young stock when we wean them and a little to finish the beef if needed. We out winter what cattle the ground and weather allows, then bring the rest inside for as short a winter as possible.
Alongside the cattle we run 450 ewes mainly Derbyshire Gritstones, with some Mules and just a few Swaledales. These all lamb in April and once the lambs are weaned they move down to our organic dairy farm 12 miles south where we have a herd of 130 pedigree Ayrshires plus followers, another 100 ewes (January lambing Dorsets) and where we grow 40 acres of corn to help keep feed costs down. This farm is around 500 acres.
Robert, Jennifer, Joanna, Richard and Andrew are all full time between the two enterprises and Nicola is a vet nurse in Ashbourne and helps out whenever she is able, especially with any of the showing we do, alongside keeping her own small herd of Herefords.