FARMING MATTERS: Open day to check out Charolais herd

Dorcas Charolais herd. Picture by Heather Jan Brunt
Dorcas Charolais herd. Picture by Heather Jan Brunt

We are beef farmers and for 13 years we have used a Charolais bull to serve our suckler cows. Charolais cattle produce gorgeous chunky little fluffy white calves with solid rumps, perfect for a commercial beef herd.

Three of our stock bulls have come from the Dorcas pedigree herd owned by the Morris family in Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire. So when they hosted an open day on behalf of the South East Charolias Club recently we jumped at the chance to go along.

The Morris family from left to right: George, Emma (10), Claire, Harry (12), Rosemary and John. Picture by Heather Jan Brunt

The Morris family from left to right: George, Emma (10), Claire, Harry (12), Rosemary and John. Picture by Heather Jan Brunt

The Morris family of John, Rosemary, George and Claire have a closed herd and breed their own stock bulls, but they frequently introduce new bloodlines by using semen from across the world via AI (artificial insemination) on a selection of cows each year.

They have three primary aims with their stock. They want cows that calve easily, cows that have a good bag of milk and good sized teats that the calf can latch onto without trouble, and a calm temperament throughout the herd. I can confirm that the three bulls we have had from their herd have certainly been the calmest and most pleasant stock bulls we ever had on our farm, and produced some super calves.

At the open day we were given delicious pork rolls and cakes before listening to a demonstration on carcase grading by livestock buyer James Dickson from the ABP food group.

Then we piled onto trailers to be transported around the fields to admire the cows, calves and stock bulls. George explained that calving takes place between mid April through to the end of September, and the aim is to have calves that weigh between 40 to 50 kilos at birth and then grow quickly afterwards.

Tractor and trailer ride out to the fields to admire the cattle. Picture by Heather Jan Brunt

Tractor and trailer ride out to the fields to admire the cattle. Picture by Heather Jan Brunt

Back at the buildings we looked at the cattle handling system the Morris’s use, based on the principals of Temple Grandin, an American professor of animal science, who has done a lot of research on how to reduce stress on cattle during handling. It’s a system we use ourselves.

All in all we had a very pleasant and informative day out and enjoyed super hospitality from the Morris family.