Ben Ledi Whitebred Shorthorns
November 2011 saw the arrival
of the first Whitebred Shorthorns for the new Ben Ledi herd
at Gartchonzie Farm, Callander, Perthshire. Gartchonzie Farm
lies to the west of Callander, with stunning views to the north
and Ben Ledi.
Females were bought from several
long established herds after considerable time and effort visiting
most of the remaining herds and identifying suitable animals.
Once identified, animals were subjected to health screening
with the requirement that they test clear for Johne’s,
BVD, IBR and Leptospirosis. Only “clean” animals
were then purchased.
|Ben Ledi Joe 2nd a Blackburn Grafter son
The stock bull is Blackburn Grafter, a
Lochdochart Nemo son out of a Milnholm cow. He was selected
for his wonderful temperament, length and excellent deep fleshing.
His first crop of calves are looking very promising. Artificial
Insemination has also been used this year with three of the
best cows now confirmed in calf to a 1979 bull, Wolfhills
Chieftain. These semen straws were found after an extensive
search of vets and AI practitioners in the north and west of
Scotland. Their collection on the Islands of Islay and Tiree
proved to be mini holidays due to the travel distance and ferry
|Some of the Ben Ledi 2013 Calf crop
The main market
for Whitebred Shorthorn bulls in North and West Scotland is
to Highland Cattle Folds for use crossing with their heifers
and the cows that are not being bred pure. In the early years
of the Whitebred Shorthorn Association there were 6 pure Whitebred
Shorthorn herds in Argyll and the islands supplying this need.
The Whitebred Shorthorn delivers a superb first cross female
when mated to the Highland cow. These heifers are increasingly
in demand as a hardy, long lived and milky suckler cow. The
male calves show a 50+ kilo weight advantage at weaning over
pure Highland calves and in the region of £200
The Highland Cattle
Society has a very good health status with many of the Folds
having elite health status. The availability of crossing sires
matching this status is highly attractive to them, especially
if they can view them within relatively easy travelling distance.
Gartchonzie Farm is an ideal location in that it has no farming
neighbours (Health Scheme) and is also notorious for ticks
and the diseases they carry! Stock for sale will have high
levels of immunity to tick borne diseases. (Animals from non-tick
areas are at high risk when exposed to tick with risk of anything
from temporary sterility through to fairly sudden death from
Louping ill and Redwater).
are currently 12 Whitebred Shorthorn cows and incalf heifers
at Gartchonzie with animals from many of the well known herds
including, Blackburn, Byers Hall, Lochdochart, Longley and
Parton. The aim is to keep the herd at around this number and
to try and encourage new breeders through the availability
of both bulls and heifers.
|Two year old heifers
The Munro Ben Ledi in the background of photos above
A Ben Ledi young bull has been purchased by the monitor
farmer in Mull, Mr Iain Mackay. Iain plans to use the bull
on two year old Highland heifers, using the easy calving characteristics
of the Whitebred Shorthorn to allow calving at three years
of age instead of the traditional 4 years of age. He currently
uses a Simmental bull on the crossing element of his Highland
cows but is finding this takes too much out of some of his
cows, causing them to miss a breeding year. He will use the
Whitebred Shorthorn to reduce the demand on the cow but at
the same time still giving him a very valuable cross calf to
sell. It will be very good publicity for our breed.