Beef event at Thorn­hill farm

The Galloway News - - FARMING REVIEW -

Scot­tish Beef As­so­ciat i o n v i ce chair­man Scott Hen­der­son will open the gates of his Thorn­hill farm next month.

The evening will lead on from the Fe­bru­ary visit to the Walk­ers Drum­buie farm at San­quhar and will fol­low the calves seen at the suck­ler unit through to fin­ish. Both vis­its show­case how col­lab­o­ra­tion and in­te­gra­tion through­out beef sup­ply chains can lead to ge­netic im­prove­ment, in­creased ef­fi­cien­cies and prof­itabil­ity for all part­ners.

WJ Hen­der­son & Sons is a fam­ily part­ner­ship con­sist­ing of Scott, his wife Su­san and their son Neil.

The busi­ness farms 1150 acres, 750 acres at their home farm Car­swadda, a ten­ancy of 210 acres from Buc­cleuch Es­tates just north of Thorn­hill, which is mostly down to bar­ley, and 200 acres of rented graz­ing three miles west of Car­swadda.

The farm is home to 105 beef suck­ler cows, which block calve in mid- May. Younger cows are Aberdeen An­gus crosses and this au­tumn they plan to put the whole herd to an AA bull to in­crease this in­flu­ence fur­ther.

The cur­rent calf crop is both AA and Charo­lais. Calves are weaned in Jan­uary with bull calves kept en­tire and fin­ished in an in­ten­sive bull beef sys­tem.

The prin­ci­pal en­ter­prise on the farm is fin­ish­ing cat­tle. Scott and Neil aim to sell 30 cat­tle each week to­talling over 1,500 fin­ished cat­tle sold through­out the year. The farm’s aim is to pro­duce a pre­mium, high wel­fare prod­uct with ex­cep­tional eating qual­ity and there­fore vir­tu­ally all pur­chased stores are heifers.

The heifers fin­ish­ing diet is a TMR ra­tion made up of 7kg bar­ley mix and 15kg grass silage. Heifers are housed at 500kg and spend the last 8 weeks in­side. Lighter cat­tle are given 2-3 kg bar­ley mix while at grass.

The busi­ness is built around l o n g - t e rm re­la­tion­ships with calf sup­pli­ers, buy­ing from the same trusted sources each year and us­ing a feed­back sys­tem to share knowl­edge on per­for­mance through to slaugh­ter, to en­sure that the ge­net­ics are con­stantly im­proved. Last year’s cat­tle graded with 27% U’s, 72% R’s at an av­er­age dead­weight of 312 kgs, which saw a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in com­par­i­son to 2008 cat­tle which graded was 19% U’s, 79% R’s at an av­er­age dead­weight of 303 kgs.

Speak­ing about the re­la­tion­ship with the Walk­ers, Neil said: “One of the long­est part­ner­ships has been with Jim Walker, so long in fact that it is now his sons Michael and Stu­art that are the prin­ci­pal point of con­tact.

“The Walk­ers have al­ways taken the in­for­ma­tion we feed back and acted on it and we have seen a con­stant im­prove­ment in their stock over the years.”

The Wa l k e r s hav e ex­panded their cat­tle en­ter­prise greatly over re­cent years to their cur­rent herd of 650 breed­ing cows. They place an em­pha­sis on main­tain­ing a high health sta­tus and im­prov­ing the ge­net­ics, diet and environmen­t of the herd to max­imise the growth po­ten­tial of off­spring whilst keep­ing costs low.

When it comes to mar­ket­ing, Scott sells his fin­ished an­i­mals ex­clu­sively to AK Stod­dart. He has worked with the com­pany for more than 20 years and works closely with them to en­sure they are pro­duc­ing the cor­rect an­i­mals for their cus­tomers. It is clear that the strong re­la­tion­ships that Scott and Neil have forged both in sourc­ing and sell­ing his stock have been in­valu­able to the busi­nesses devel­op­ment and con­tin­ued suc­cess and we would like to thank him and his fam­ily for their hos­pi­tal­ity in open­ing the farm to the SBA in Au­gust.

The Au­gust 14 event be­gins at 5.30pm with a tour in­clud­ing talks from beef spe­cial­ist Gavin Hill of SAC con­sult­ing, Scott & Neil Hen­der­son and Michael Walker. Event spon­sor AB Visa will also be run­ning a talk on the use of feed ad­di­tives to op­ti­mise ef­fi­cien­cies in cat­tle fin­ish­ing. The tour will be fol­lowed by a BBQ spon­sored by Stod­darts. To book places call 01434 601005 or email [email protected] na­tion­al­beefas­so­ci­a­tion.com

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