A nightmare year of using the wrong sire and the disappointing results has gone. With 8 heifers bound for the abattoir still not prime, again really prove and emphasise that flighty are hard to fatten. Consequently we will be short of replacement heifers.
The good bit is that with the right sires and genetics of value this year’s yearlings look fabulous, are very quiet with excellent weights. The lesson learnt is don’t keep sires with dubious genetics.
Look at least 5 generations back before selecting a stud bull. When you have been breeding Charolais as long as The Glen stud (since 1975) you know at least 5 or 6 generations back. All it takes is one animal to cause immeasurable problems.
Our 2010 sire is Crusader, a moderate, very quiet well muscled son of Sylvain. There have been no calving problems and his progeny are pattern animals – all very sound and correct with a temperament we have placed our Studs’ reputation on. We pride ourselves on not selling bulls with bad disposition.
We have yearling bulls by Crusader with stud potential.
It is pleasing to see the improvement in the beef prices – a long time overdue. Hopefully this will reflect in prices for terminal sires to compensate for the work involved in stud breeding which must still be carried out regardless of price.
At the invitation of Benoit Delaloy (International Director of the Sommet) on the 30th September 2010 Bill and I left New Zealand to attend the Sommet in Clermont Ferrand, France. The 3 day show was from 6th – 8th October inclusive with over 500 Charolais being the feature breed. We had a 28 hour stopover in Dubai, and arrived in Nice for a 3 day “touristy” adventure.
We had a “hop-on hop-off” tour of Nice and next day visited Monaco and Monte Carlo – what an eye opener! Benoit had organized for us to have an apartment in Clermont Ferrand for the duration of the show, with courtesy buses available to travel the few kilometers to the grounds. Each day there were organized farm visits – a wonderful way of seeing rural France.
We visited a commercial Charolais farm – great looking cattle soon to be housed for the winter in huge sheds with closed circuit cameras to monitor calving. The second day was a visit to a Blonde Acqutaine stud farm – many miles through some beautiful countryside – a long way to go to see 10 cows disappearing into the distance! Local cheeses and wine were provided by the host. Students from the Clermont Ferrand Agricultural College were on hand as interpreters – they were a great help and extremely pleasant young people. In the afternoon we watched cattle judging – an amazing spectacle in a huge auditorium with superbly presented cattle, totally inapplicable to New Zealand conditions. The third morning we spent looking around the Show and talking to other breeders and later we visited Ucatrc Breeding Centre and inspected 12 bulls there for semen collection.A son of Pinay and a son of Magenta could have potential for New Zealand. That afternoon was market day in Clermont Ferrand – much to my delight and Bill was able to hone his bargaining skills on family gifts – hugely entertaining.
Our original plan was to stay 3 days with our French family Benoit, Susan and their 2 little boys, Victor and Maxime in the lovely little village of Saint Maurice. However our visit was cut short due to the pending general strike in France. Thanks to our marvellous travel agent Chris back here in Christchurch we fortunately changed our bookings and left the day before the strike was due to start as the airlines, air traffic controllers and railways went out on the same day.
There was utter mayhem at both Orly and Charles De Gaulle airports as it appeared all tourists had the same idea as us. We flew into Birmingham, stayed the night at the Airport Hotel and picked up our rental car the next morning then the nightmare started!! We left the airport bound for Kenilworth (head quarters of the British Charolais Society) We set off with she who can’t navigate her way out of a paper bag and he who navigates by the seat of his pants! (I think this is where a Sat Nav would have been very useful!) Out onto the M6 into the slow lane – us in our Ford Focus sandwiched between 2 big trucks doing 70 mph – approached the first roundabout – 10 exits and the navigator chose the wrong one! 1 hour and 22 miles later we arrived back at Birmingham airport. After finding a very friendly policeman who shifted traffic cones and held up the traffic for us we eventually made it to Kenilworth. It would have been easy to get to if the navigator had chosen the right exit!! Kenilworth is a lovely rural village (there is also a very good dentist there!!) We were made very welcome at the Charolais HQ by David and Joy and spent a most enjoyable time there. From there we traveled north west to Nantwich where we had 2 days with relations of Bill’s, visiting churches and towns where his ancestors had lived. We got temporarily misplaced in Nantwich and learnt about the “right to roam” law. We do hope it is never bought into force here. We spent the next night in Keswick in the Lakes District but unfortunately it was very damp and misty so were unable to see the spectacle of the Lakes District. Next stop was Carlisle – what a great place of history surrounded by Hadrian’s wall. We had the pleasure of meeting Peter and Vanessa Vasey and their daughter, son-in-law and grandson. Their stud is “Eden” – paddocks of great Full French cows – a really enjoyable visit.
Next stop was Gretna Green – very interesting but of course catering for tourists. We spent the night at Annadale Waters, just south of the Scottish border, a service stop of the M6 but so beautiful and a peaceful place to stay. We headed to Stirling, skirting round Glasgow and spent 2 nights at a home stay there. Moira had renovated her family home to accommodate home stays and what a truly interesting place to stay. We had specifically gone to Stirling to the show and sale of many cattle breeds (was formerly held in Perth). 215 2 years old and younger Charolais bulls were on display for showing and sale. One bull in particular caught our eye. He was judged first in his class. We later heard that he sold for 4000 guineas. Unfortunately we weren’t able to be present at the sale due to our departure flight. (We did hear later that about a quarter of the bulls sold).
We returned to Glasgow Airport via Loch Lomond which was a truly lovely drive – a very fitting way to finish our trip to the UK.
On our return home we are pleased how we have adapted our Full French cattle stud to suit New Zealand conditions. From client feed back our cattle shift and adapt nation wide.