West Cruichie store cattle destined for Thainstone on Friday

11/02/2020

Young farmer William Law from West Cruichie, Huntly, will be selling his first draw of store cattle at Aberdeen and Northern Marts’ Thainstone Centre on Friday, February 14.

Over the next few months at Thainstone, beef producers from across the north, north-east and further south, will be selling annual consignments of store cattle at the firm’s weekly sales on a Friday.

William has been farming the 75-acre unit since June 2018, after an opportunity arose for him to purchase the farm and build up a profitable beef and sheep enterprise by sourcing finance through the bank and ANM’s stock on agreement. 

Initially, William started with 25 spring calving cows but has now built the herd up to 40 head, with an additional 55 in-calf heifers purchased through Thainstone for selling back through the ring with calves at foot.

The breeding sheep flock has also been increased from 330 Mules to 450 head, all of which are crossed to the Suffolk tup for producing prime lambs. They lamb from March 1 onwards inside.

“ANM has really given me a start in farming as without the support and finance from the firm, I wouldn’t have the volume of stock on the farm that I do now,” said William.

“I am able to purchase good quality in-calf heifers in the back end and others throughout the spring for bulling which can then be sold back through the centre with young calves at foot.

“Thainstone is an ideal place for selling livestock as there is always a good ringside of buyers present. I’ve never seen an empty ringside at Thainstone yet and there is a market for all types of stock there,” he added.

William’s first draw of store cattle for this week’s sale includes 25 Charolais and Limousin crosses (17 stots and eight heifers) which are fed a diet of neeps, silage and barley.  

A further 20 younger calves will be kept on and possibly summered before being sold through Thainstone later in the year.

Stock bulls are purchased locally with the most recent being a Charolais from Jock Wilson’s Kinclune herd which William purchased at the Royal Northern Spring Show at Thainstone in 2019.

Last October, William purchased 42 in-calf heifers at Thainstone and then bought the remainder at store cattle sales in the spring for bulling. They are calving now and the first draw will be sold with their calves at foot at Thainstone at the end of April.

“Calving heifers is certainly hard and intense work as they don’t have experience but the returns so far have been worth it,” said William, who sold heifer and calves to a top of £3000 last year.

“Selling the heifers in April and May is a good system to work, especially when I don’t have the acres to carry the numbers through the summer. I aim to buy in mainly Simmental heifers because that’s what producers seem to like in Aberdeenshire but I’ve found that a Limousin is easier to keep than a Simmental.

“A good Limousin cross heifer and calf outfit will always sell well at Thainstone but you need to have plenty shape in the calves,” he concluded.

William added that another big advantage selling livestock through Thainstone is the reduced livestock commission rates which are now as a low as 3% for members.