The Central England Beef Shorthorn Club met at Edinburgh airport on the 27th September for a 4 day tour whilst based in Perth. The group stayed at The Royal George Hotel where there was a hint of nostalgia for those who had attended the original Perth Bull Sales. Today the staff are just as welcoming, the food is excellent and the bar prepared for a few late sessions!!
Our first visit on the 27th was to the Fingask herd owned by the McGowan family near Cupar. Set in a glorious position with rolling hills and stunning views, this 300 acre farm is home to one of the breeds longest established herds. The cattle were working hard with a good crop of calves at foot and with some very useful heifers destined for the October sales in Stirling. Liz Lang was exceedingly knowledgeable about the cattle and the hospitality provided by Margaret was excellent. We left in the early evening thinking that if this was to be the standard of every visit then we were going to have a good time.
Our next visit on the 28th was to see the Coldrochie herd owned by Douglas McMillan. This is a new set up renovated over the last four years with the majority of the herd brought from their former home in Gloucestershire. The array of buildings would be the envy of many. The cattle were in paddocks which radiate out from the house. They were all very relaxed despite 20 people walking amongst them. The herd comprises 50 cows with 100 followers all calving in the spring. The calves were well grown and the cows were thriving on the new pasture despite a difficult winter. There was a competition to guess the weight of a young bull going to Stirling. Colnvalley Elmar weighed in at 960kg and the prize was won by Eiryth Thomas.
The tour then travelled to the House of Bruar at Blair Atholl for the ladies to enjoy some retail therapy. The journey took in some of Central Scotlands best and most beautiful scenery with autumn colours just starting to show in the wooded becks and wild deer grazing on stubble. Along the route we saw fields of carrots, potatoes, brassicas and polytunnels full of raspberries.
The following day we had another scenic drive to Glen Isla and the estate of Major J. Gibb. We stopped on the way at the Reekie Lines Falls which were quite spectacular. Glenisla is at 950 ft. above sea level and is set in an unspoilt valley with steep hills on both sides. The renowned Glenisla herd comprises 60-65 cows which were on display in the best of settings in fields at the bottom of the valley. The cows are all home bred and had strong calves at foot of an even type. The cows all had very good udders regardless of their age. The stock bulls are also home bred, Glenisla Arctic Storm and Glenisla Excalibur. Both these bulls are well muscled and producing consistently good calves. The visit concluded with the real treat of a hot meal prepared by Catriona; the generous hospitality being appreciated by all.
The next herd we viewed was five mins down the valley and was only started 5 years ago. The East Mill herd is a good level bunch of cows with some promising calves at foot by the bull Glenisla Doctor Who. This bull is shared by the Knowlehead herd owned by Mr and Mrs John Redpath; our next visit. The setting for this farm was just as beautiful as all the rest we had seen. It has a range of traditional buildings but these are not very livestock friendly for cattle so the family rent alternative accommodation for their winter housing. The cows were deep bodied and milking well as shown by the useful looking calves at foot. The visit and the day concluded with a welcome hot drink and homemade cakes in the old diary.
Our final visit on the 30th was to the home of Highland Wagyu near Dunblane. Many on the tour had their first sighting of Wagyu cattle and during the morning we were treated to viewings of herds of Aberdeen Angus, Beef Shorthorns and a whole host of crossbreds. This enterprise is forging new ground for cattle breeding and a return visit in a few years is going to be “a must do“.
Thank you to all of our interesting and generous hosts, who will always be welcome down in The Shires.