The Salers Cattle Society of the UK and the British Charolais Cattle Society hosted a joint herd visit at Ty’n Hendre, Bangor by kind permission of Alun & Anita Thomas and family on Saturday 3rd September 2022.
The event attracted a massive audience that travelled from as far afield as Aberdeen and they witnessed for themselves the extreme versatility of both breeds.
Arwel Owen, British Charolais Cattle Society, opened the day by introducing both breeds and briefly described myostatin. John Richards, Hybu Cig Cymru one of the major event sponsors, discussed the current beef market and market requirements and Chris Duller guided participants through grassland management techniques in a beef system. Finally, Stefan Totir, Bodrwnsiwn Veterinary Practice, described the block calving system used at Ty’n Hendre and discussed cow fertility, before everyone embarked on the farm tour.
Farming 280 acres on a tenanted unit meant everything at Ty’n Hendre was carefully scrutinised and had to pay its way, the previous suckler herd of cross cows struggled to pay its way and caused too many issues.
Salers cows had made suckler farming more enjoyable for the family and these days the herd is largely served by Charolais bulls producing the much sought after ‘golden calf’. In recent years heifers have been bulled to calve at two years old, with both heifers and first calved cows put to Salers bulls and older cows all served by Charolais bulls. When it comes to sourcing Charolais bulls Alun paid close attention to both physical appearance and performance figures and genomic information, aiming to buy bulls with the ability to produce premium priced calves. Calving started in mid-February and lasted for 12 weeks; the aim was to have most of the herd calved in the first third of the calving period.
The calves, both heifers and steers were well sought after when they were sold as suckled calves each autumn. Repeat buyers tended to seek them out year after year for their quick growth and easy fleshing. They were sold in the first week of October, with a small amount of creep offered to calves pre-sale to help them adapt when they move on to a finisher, the family aim to sell them early to facilitate the wintering of cows more cheaply. The calves were sold in large groups, and they stood out for their evenness and uniformity.
Aside from a small amount of creep feed, no other feed was bought in for the herd, with cows wintered on grass silage and free access to rock salt. They all received a mineral drench ahead of calving which helped boost the quality of their colostrum.
Alun and family believed the Salers crossed with the Charolais was something that could not be rivalled.
Running alongside the event was an informal Young Farmers stock judging competition organised by Lora-Jên Pritchard, Huw Williams and Geraint Harper.
Results of the stock judging were as follows:
- Gwern Hughes
- Lora Jên Pritchard
- William Roberts
- Cian Rhys
- Twm Tudor
- Guto Pari
- Morgan Hughes
- Gethin Harper
There was also a raffle and ‘guess the weight of the stock bull’ competition which raised £700 for the local children hospice Tŷ Gobaith.
Both Societies would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to both Anita, Alun and their family for hosting the day.
We would also like to thank Arwel Owen, British Charolais Cattle Society, John Richards, Hybu Cig Cymru, Chris Duller and Stefan Totir, Bodrwnsiwn Veterinary Practice for speaking at the event and we are extremely grateful to the following sponsors:
- Cybi Cyf & the Pritchard family
- Ruthin Market
- D W Williams Feeds
- Welshpool Livestock Services
- Emyr Evans
- Menai Tractors
- Lafan Cymru
- St Asaph Livestock Market
- Hybu Cig Cymru
- Agri Lloyd
- Aber Falls Distillery
- Mona Tractors
- Bodrwnsiwn Vets
- Farm Fencing Supplies
- W H Evans
- Arfon Roberts
- Oliver Seeds
A special thank you to everyone who donated raffle prizes, Siôn and his team for providing the catering and to MacGregor Photography for the fabulous photographs.