The Beef Shorthorn Welsh Black combo
Hywel Griffiths farming in partnership with his mother, Morfudd and brother, Dylan
Nanty Farm, Llanidloes, Powys
320 aces LFA
35 Welsh Black breeding females
950 Welsh and Welsh Hill Speckle Face ewes
250 ewes lambs
50 Herdwick ewes
“I’m the second generation to farm Welsh Black pedigree cows at Nanty where sucklers play an important role in the grazing rotation. However, the time had come for a change, we wanted something that had more market value and was more practical to keep.
“We always have surplus heifers to sell as well as all the steers, and whilst there is demand for Welsh Blacks, it’s for older animals around 18 to 20 months, and we’re ready to sell at eight month weaning. Those reasons were compounded by the fact I couldn’t find the bull I wanted.
“We want to breed a suckler with a tight, well suspended udder with good teat placements, and it has to be sufficiently hardy to out winter on forage - grass, haylage and towards the end of the season, fodder beet. We also want something that is quiet and easy to manage.
“We initially saw Beef Shorthorn at the Royal Welsh, and were seriously impressed it would fit the bill. We were also aware that Beef Shorthorn crosses grow into small to medium size cows in the 650kg to 700kg mature weight range, consequently they need less feed and cost less to keep which is just what we were looking for.
“We invested in a Beef Shorthorn bull, used him over the entire Welsh Black herd and his first crop of March born calves are on the ground; they were easily calved and soon up and away. We noticed the Beef Shorthorn crosses were livelier calves, and more willing to suck. Since they’ve grown away off grass; steers should reach 350kg at eight months weaning and we’re confident they should find demand from finishers for the Morrisons Shorthorn Beef Scheme.
“We are keeping 15% of the heifers for replacement purposes and to calve at two years, whilst we’re optimistic the surplus heifers will find interest from suckler producers seeking mixed native bloodlines offering a touch of hybrid vigour.
“We were sufficiently confident that this year’s first crop of calves will meet our expectations that once again we’ve introduced the entire herd to the Beef Shorthorn. Whilst we are already focused on maximising output from minimal inputs, we’re aware we will have to step up our game even more in future if we’re to remain viable. Beef Shorthorn should have a place alongside the Welsh Blacks.”