THE potential role of the Whitebred Shorthorn will come under the spotlight at a farm open day in South West Scotland.
Neale and Janet McQuistin, pedigree and commercial beef and sheep producers, host the Morrisons-sponsored event at High Airyolland, New Luce, Newton Stewart, on August 27.
In 2005, after EU farm support was decoupled from headage payments, the McQuistins decided to replace their traditional Angus cross suckler cows with Highland cows.
The farm has no winter cattle housing and plenty of rough grazing, which suits the cows that also manage areas for the benefit of the environment.
They now have 80 Highland females of different ages, and the McQuistins have started to use traditional Whitebred Shorthorn over them.
Primarily a crossing bull, it is suitable for any breed of female, but principally with the Galloway to produce the Blue Grey, but also the cross Highlander.
Longley Milestone, their first bull was bought from Adrian and Janice Wheelwright’s Longley herd. He first went to the cows in June 2012 with the Highland bull used to sweep up and provide replacements.
Mr McQuistin said: “We chose to cross our Highland cattle with the Whitebred Shorthorn because of their reputation for producing a first class suckler cow that is remarkably milky and easily maintained.
“We were very pleased with the first calves. They have very good conformation, grew out well and were particularly pleasing to the eye. They have been very placid and easy to work with.”
The heifers were sold straight from the farm, but a batch of nine bullocks, weighing 215kg, sold at Stirling market in November 2013 for £490 each.
Morrisons have a small herd of Whitebred Shorthorns, alongside one of the UK’s largest pedigree herds of Beef Shorthorns, at Dumfries House in Ayrshire where, in a unique collaboration with one of the Prince of Wales’ charities, it has been running the 1,000 acre farm since 2009.
Under the supermarket’s traditional beef scheme, Whitebred sired steers are eligible for the same 30p per kg premium as the Beef Shorthorn.
Andrew Loftus, Morrison’s agriculture manager, said: “WBSH, in our view, could become increasingly important as part of a stratified beef breeding programme, being a true maternal breed.
“WBSH sired females make great suckler cows that can calve to a wide variety of terminal sires.”
The event starts at noon.