27 February 1998

Luing devotees turn out to show beef resilience

THE resilience of the British beef industry and its determination to look beyond the current crisis was evident at the Luing Cattle Societys annual show and sale at Castle Douglas.

Although the top call of 2700gns came for a bull, this is a sale where the strength of the female trade is the true barometer of its success. Although buyers were selective, there was a lively demand throughout the day for heifers which reached 1020gns apiece for a pair of in-calvers from breed pioneers Cadzow Bros, Oban, Argyll.

Breed society secretary Maryanne McGregor described the atmosphere as "a little more optimistic", even though breeders were selling cattle at below last years values.

"All beef producers are looking at ways to reduce costs of production. Suckler cows that will winter out and rear their calves well without high costs of additional feed are bound to find favour. The Luing was developed to meet these requirements and in addition replacement costs can also be reduced because this breed has proved to be a great laster," said Mrs McGregor.

Robin Anderson, managing director of Wallets Marts said breeders did not know what to expect before the sale but ended up "quite comfortable" with the outcome.

"Considering the beef situation there was no shortage of buyers looking to the future and investing in quality stock."

The increase in popularity of the Luing on farms in the Scottish Borders continued, but devotees from the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland were keen to make their journeys worthwhile and added an edge to the trade.

Leading the in-calf heifer section was the pair from Cadzow Bros which had earlier stood reserve champions for the Bank of Scotland special award judged by Michael Blackadder, farm manager with the Ettrickshaws Farming Partnership.

The two red heifers – Luing Ardluing 1019th and Luing Leccamore 1046th – were both due to calf next month to Luing Warlord. Buyer was Alan Rose, Glenfintaig Estate, Spean Bridge.

And the Glenfintaig Estate continued to invest in some of the best heifers on offer by taking the champion pair at 1000gns each. Consigned by Robert McNee, Blackridge, West Lothian, they were Benhar Bounty 23rd and Benhar Crocus 38th. Both these red heifers were due to calve in March/April to Luing Whisky Mac.

The sale kicked off to a strong start with an in-calf red heifer from Finlay McGowans consignment from his herd at Blairgowrie, Perthshire. His Dirnanean W17 Jane made 750gns to Charlie Symons, Attonburn, Kelso.

Matthew Mauchlen, Woodburn, Crieff had every reason to be strengthening his commitment to the Luing. The breed forms the backbone of his cattle enterprise and his Ben Challum herd featured in the MLCs 1996 beef awards.

Mr Mauchlen paid 980gns for Cadzow Bros Luing Ardlarach 960th, a red in-calf heifer, and 880gns for Mr McNees Benhar Misty 63rd.

And there were more high prices for the Cadzow Bros in-calf heifers, when Luing Ballycastle 1041st made 950gns to the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute and an 850gns call from Ettrickshaws Farming Partnership claimed Luing Ardlarach 967th.

Other bids for in-calvers at 820gns and 800gns helped lift the overall average for 44 head to £722.

But there was even better to come. Demand for bulling heifers was particularly strong reaching 850gns. The call came from R Moffat, Wooplaw, Galashiels for the champion pair – Merkland Annual 24th and Merkland Heather 32nd both Dirnanaen Rocky daughters from J Fawcett and Co, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire.

Mr Moffat also paid 820gns for a Craigdarroch heifer from The Firm of R D Ker, Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire.

Mr Symons was busy again in the bulling heifer section taking two more Merkland entries from Messrs Fawcett at 750gns apiece and giving the same amount for a Dirnanean Texas daughter consigned by Mr Robb, Comrie, Perthshire.

The Macaulay Land Use Research Institute bought two more bulling heifers from Mr Robbs Carroglen herd at 720gns each and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds gave 720gns each for two heifers from J J and R Camerons Monzie herd at Blair Atholl.

There were four bids of 700gns and eight more transactions in the 600-700gns range. The 103 bulling heifers averaged £510.

The successful allegiance between the Simmental and the Luing produced the Sim-Luing hybrid which still has a strong following. The Sim-Luing section produced a top price of 700gns given twice for in-calf heifers from Messrs I Aitken, Corsock, Castle Douglas. A bunch of eight bulling heifers from K and M Jones, Shotts, Lanarkshire averaged £388.50.

Bull trade was disappointing with only five of the 11 forward finding new homes. The 2700gns bid came for J J and R Camerons Monzie Malcolm X Maol, an April 1996-bred red bull taken by the Firm of R D Ker. Luing Export, a Benhar Scorpio son from Cadzow Bros, went to the Monzie herd at 1700gns. (Wallets Marts). &#42

Top price Luing at Castle Douglas was this 2700gns bull.