Mickleton Mill Salers run by Thomas and Catherine Atkinson. Thomas’s dad used to be more involved but has since retired. Both grew up on upland family farms. Thomas worked at home since leaving school, has also worked on dairy farm and done contracting work. Catherine studied Agriculture at uni, and used to teach, but now works at home full time.
140 acres owned grassland. Upland SDA farm. Majority of grassland is reseeded into 7yr leys. Also have a small, commercial sheep flock of North of England Mules put to Texel tups. Used to previously run commercial suckler herd, with replacements bought in from the dairy industry and put to Charolais bulls. Sold all cattle in 2017 and moved to Salers.
Had a handful of Salers for around 10 years now, before going fully into only Salers in 2017. 125 breeding cattle going to the bull this year. 50/50 pedigree/commercial. Salers and Charolais bulls. Foundation female cattle were bought from Bacardi Salers, Seamore Salers, Harperley Salers, Parkfield Salers, Approach Farm Salers and commercials imported from France.
Ideal female animal: High milk EBV, large pelvic measurement, good temperament, tidy bag, mature weight of around 600-700kg. Basically, able to wean a calf at 200 days that weighs around 50% of mature weight.
Ideal male animal: Got a range of different bulls, as we sell all of our young bull’s fat under 16 months so need something with good growth rates. All stock bulls need to have good feet/legs, be fertile and bull cows quickly, thick topline/back and good depth, good fat covering so progeny finish fast and kill out well. For stock bulls used to breed replacement females, we also require that bulls have a large pelvic area, and small birth weights.
- Able to calf without assistance, and calf guaranteed to be up and feeding within 20 minutes.
- Very good quality colostrum meaning healthy calves. Our medicine usage (other than preventative) is almost nothing on farm now.
- Able to calf at 2 years old, usually weaning first calf at 70% of heifer weight, and still reach good mature weights.
- Exceptionally fertile.
In 2019 we had 100% of 104 cows/heifers put to bull in calf from running with bulls for 9 weeks.
Able to keep a closed herd and retain good quality breeding females.
Fewer problems with cattle in general, so reduced amount of time managing cattle herd, so our time can be spent elsewhere.
- All females sold for breeding. Anything that doesn’t make the grade is sold fat.
- Majority of bulls are sold deadweight to ABP.
- May retain 2/3 bulls per year to sell if we think they are good enough for breeding.
- Everything kept entire, nothing fattened as steers. Average bull grades R+/3.
- DLWG bulls range from 1.18kg/day to 1.4kg/day over first year.
- DLWG heifers range from 0.77kg/day to 1.11kg/day over first year. Don’t breed from anything with a DLWG of under 0.8kg/day.
- Average birth weights: heifers 34kg and bulls 38kg
Our Salers ambition
Increase average finishing weights of bulls to around 700kg across the whole group before 16 months of age.
Increase DLWG in bulling heifers off forage-based diet, so they reach an average bulling weight of 450kg.