Out and About with Bruce Gilchrist

...farms manager for Floors Farming since 1996, who was converted to Luings as he looked over the fence and saw what his neighbour was doing with the breed! Bruce gives an insight into how he has developed the operation for Roxburghe Estates and where he hopes to be before too long.

Prior to December 2002, Byrecleugh and Scarlaw Farms carrying 2000 Blackface ewes on an all heather hill rising to 1750 ft above sea lever and with limited in bye ground were farmed in hand by Roxburghe Estates. Rawburn Farm plus all the stock from the out going tenant was then taken in hand, giving a total of 10,200 acres and adding 1870 ewes, 300 ewe hoggs, 80 Galloway cows and heifers, 36 Galloway cross cows, 17 Galloway bulling heifers and 3 black Limousin bulls.

Galloway cows out wintered well on Rawburn but we were looking for a cow that could give us a higher level of production with a docile temperament and one that would produce our own replacements so that eventually we could form a closed herd. The Luing appeared to fill all the criteria and the decision was made!

At the 2003 Stirling sale eight Sim/Luing in calf heifers were purchased from Benhar and Harehead and four Luing in calf heifers from Wooplaw plus eleven bulling heifers from Luing, Westwater and Carie. In February 2004 we added eleven bulling heifers and the Luing bull, Merkland Dominator from Castle Douglas and bought there again in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Hopefully by 2008 we will be producing all our own replacements and we are optimistic that after that we will be in a position to sell surplus heifers at Castle Douglas!

The aim is to run 120 Luing cows putting 60 to the Luing bull and 60 to the Simmental bull with Sim/Luing steers either sold at 10 - 12 months of age or possibly taken through and finished. With an additional 200 acres of grass available at Kelso for summering young stock, next summer Sim/Luing heifers will be sold at 18 months. Luing steers will be finished at 18 - 20 months of age - the down side of the Luing breed would have to be selling Luing steers in the store market so we have decided to finish them in order to get the maximum potential from them.

Cows are all wintered outside on rough areas with in calf heifers wintered on a straw bedded corral. Straw is fed from mid to late October when grass disappears with silage added from mid January. Concentrates are only fed to cows after calving before the grass grows.

In the past calves have been creep fed before weaning but with high feed prices this year creeps have not been used. Calves will be weaned earlier and concentrates introduced when the calves are housed. Earlier weaning should also allow cow condition to be maintained for the winter period.

Heifers are calved from March 20th followed by cows a month later, once the bulk of the lambing is past. In October 2006 we joined the SAC Premium Cattle Health Scheme, aiming to sell High Health status cattle in future.