Blue Grey Cattle at Ardjachie
Ardjachie, situated near Tain on the shores of the Dornoch
Firth in the North of Scotland, was purchased in 1962 and is
farmed in partnership by my son Matthew and myself, now semi-retired
I attend mainly to the administration side of the business
with Matthew carrying out the day to day running of the farm.
We both enjoy working with cattle and sheep.
Ardjachie is on a light sandy soil, and consists of 121 hectares
of which 63ha are rotational grassland with the remainder
permanent grass and rough grazing. 9ha of seasonal grazing
are also taken on an annual basis.
The first Bluegreys were purchased as in-calf heifers, this
was followed in 1964 by blue grey bulling heifers from their
neighbour Her Grace Anne, Duchess of Westminster at Morangie
Farm, Tain, this arrangement continued until her farm was sold
in 1985, when this necessitated the purchase from Dingwall
Auction, of heifers which had been sourced at Newcastleton
the previous October. However, in an attempt to get the numbers
and quality of heifers we required, a trip to Newcastleton
Auction Mart was made in 1994 and this has continued every
year since except 2001 due to the foot and mouth closure of
The farm currently runs 104 breeding cows and 17 in-calf heifers;
the majority calve down in August / September with the reminder
in the spring. The heifers are put to an Aberdeen Angus bull
and the cows to the Charolais. We occasionally keep some homebred
Angus cross heifers but the herd is predominately Blue Grey.
When the heifers arrive from Newcastleton, they are quarantined
for at least three weeks and as members of the HI-Health Ltd
cattle health scheme, we routinely blood test for BVD virus,
recently we have undertaken a private TB test on the new heifers
to ensure no reactors are brought onto the farm. We are lucky
in that we do not have any neighbouring cattle thus keeping
the herd as closed as possible.
The cows and calves are out wintered on a ration of silage,
straw and draff from Glenmorangie Distillery which is near
by. The calves are creep fed. Being on light soil, we find
the fields don’t poach and the feeding areas are reseeded
in the spring.
Autumn calves are weaned in late summer, the steers are houses
from November until they are sold as forward stores the following
spring, most of the heifers are housed and sold prime at around
280kg deadweight. The Angus crosses and some charolais heifers
are out wintered.
We also run 70 Scotch Mule ewes which go to a Suffolk tup
with lambs sold prime in early autumn. Our main reason for
having sheep is to control ragwort on the permanent grazing.
We have remained with the Bluegrey over the years despite
the changing fashions because they are ideally suited to our
system, being easily out wintered with a good hardy coat, they
are easily maintained, have a great mothering ability with
plenty of milk, we have very few udder problems and their feet
rarely require any maintenance. The Blue grey has great longevity,
many cows lasting well into their teens, this despite producing
and rearing Charolais calves year after year. All this is in
stark contrast to some continental bred cows we have tried
over the years.
The best reason of for keeping the Blue Grey is that we have
a standardised herd of cows - all of whom are extremely easy
on the eye.