By Tom Hume BVetMed M.R.C.V.S
Discussions at our Club meetings have mainly revolved around how the changes at council level would affect our club and our breed.
As a club we are quite clear that we want the British Simmental Society to lead in two ways. 1) Improving the health and productivity of the cattle 2) Improving the marketing of the breed to consumers, abattoirs and those buying terminal sires.
On a recent holiday to the south of France, I was reminded once again what a good job the Angus society have done. Reading a menu in a restaurant proclaiming “Angus steak”!
We are fortunate in our region that one of our members, Andrew Clarke, is the managing director of the largest mixed species abattoir in the country. With his encouragement, many of the local farmers are moving away from other Breeds in favour of Simmentals and this increases the demand for our members’ bulls.
The other important area is the health and productivity of the cattle. I think the various cattle health accreditation schemes are a good starting point and the society’s move to promote these is encouraging. I think further guidance for members on what is required and what is achievable would be useful. Accredited shows and sales will be necessary if we are to take positive steps to tackle diseases such as BVD and IBR. I would also like to see pre-purchase fertility testing of bulls become a routine procedure, with tough thresholds to ensure only the most fertile bulls are presented for sale and allowed to act as ambassadors of our breed in commercial herds.
I was delighted to read the letter from Neil Shand and felt it promised more focus and purpose from the society in the future.
Anyway, on to club matters; some members had great success at the shows this summer for which we congratulate them.
The Royal Norfolk Show was a highlight for us. The show put on a delicious Exhibitors meal on the Wednesday night, which was very well supported. We were pleased it attracted many Simmental Breeders from as far afield as Kent, Sussex; Hertfordshire and further! There was a very impressive display with all classes hotly contested. Congratulations to everyone! Thanks must go to all members who helped with the food and hospitality.
After several years of trying we finally managed to organise an overseas trip. Thanks to Phillida Hurn, 16 members and friends flew to Dublin and had a most enjoyable weekend visiting farms in Kilkenny, attending the Irish Beef Expo 2010, sampling the Guinness and learning how to line dance!
The thing that impressed all of us was the quality of the cattle, and the passion of the Irish breeders. They were patriotic and determined to improve Irish cattle. They are succeeding.
Our little group had much to think about as we made our way home. Four members had even more to think about as they waited in anticipation to see how their new acquisitions adapted to life on English soil!
As our autumn meetings begin again we look forward to the Thursford Christmas concert and a farm walk around Denis Mitchell’s farm. Congratulations to all our members who have done extremely well in the show ring, and especially Denis for his success at Stirling Bull Sales this autumn, where he won the Supreme Female Champion with a young heifer and sold very well for 5200gns and Simon Key for winning the EBLEX Prize for the most improved Simmental herd.