News from Canada
Posted on November 27 at 2:25PM.
My husband Albert and I raise purebred Welsh Black cattle on our farm one-hour west and slightly north of Edmonton, Alberta near a small community by the name of Cherhill. We farm 700 acres with approximately 200 acres in annual crop rotation. The balance of our farm supports our herd of cows with a mix of hay and pastureland. We produce our own winter feed supply and like to call our farming operation a "natural" one. We don't qualify as organic because we fertilize and spray our crops for weed control however we like to keep our cow herd as close to natural as possible. Our son, Dan and his fiancée Tamara, work with us on a part-time basis with their off-farm income as a heavy equipment operator and teaching assistant making it possible for us to keep some of our family involved on the farm. The last six years in Canada have been difficult to say the least, due to the two year BSE border closure with our biggest export market - the United States, and four consecutive years of major drought. Those conditions back to back forced a lot of producers into the position of heavily subsidizing their operations in order to stay alive. Off farm income has become the lifeline for the moment and has caused some major changes in the way our farms are being run.
In 2000 we had a mixed herd of 160 Welsh Black and Angus cows and were producing both purebred and half blood calves with Welsh Black bulls as the terminal sires. Due to the drought, we were forced to make a decision in regards to the number of cows we were able to carry without purchasing feed from other sources. We decided to keep our Welsh Black cows as we've found them to be exceptional in the areas of feed efficiency, temperament and calf production. This was a difficult decision for us as the market in Canada has become dominated by both Black and Red Angus and financially it made more sense to stay with the Angus herd. However our admiration for the working qualities of our Welsh Black cattle prevailed and we sold our entire purebred and half blood Angus cross herd. We're now exclusively breeding Welsh Black and are finding more and more people interested in the great qualities these cattle exhibit.
We currently have 70 cows in calf and have kept 10 bred heifers and 26 heifer calves to add back into our herd next year. Our goal is to calve 100 cows and not be inclined to keep increasing our numbers as we've done in the past!! It's always tempting to keep those excellent quality young animals and hopefully is an indication that intense culling has made a substantial improvement in the development of our cowherd. We cull for temperament, udders, conformation and calf size pretty much in that order. Consequently it's taken us about ten years to develop a herd that consistently produces the type of calves we want while maintaining the qualities we want in our replacement heifers. We focus mostly on the female side of the equation and are using bulls that will produce a 1200 pound cow - the size we feel has proven to be the most efficient cow/calf ratio for the type of winter feed conditions and pasture management scenarios we experience in our locale. Because our focus is on the female side, we're very selective in the bulls we use in our herd and only keep the top 10% of the bull calves we produce. Their dams have to be top-notch producers with good udders, great feet and a good attitude! The rest of the bull calves are ringed at birth and are the quick cash income we rely on in the fall to pay our bills!!
In addition to our purebred herd, we have approximately 50 purebred Welsh Black cows on a lease/shared calf crop basis with Jay and Maryanne Howard who operate Nightherder Cattle Co. just east of Calgary, Alberta. These cows are being bred Black Angus and will be producing calves destined for the commercial replacement and feedlot market.
In 2002 and 2003 we exported semen from the Neuadd bulls we've raised to both New Zealand and Australia. Ian and Mary Paton of New Zealand were touring in Canada and were really impressed with the quality of our yearling bulls. They asked us to collect and export semen from Ebony Neuadd Knight and Ebony Neuadd Gem (a polled bull) and we initiated the process of placing both bulls on stud. Ian had a good eye for quality in young stock as these bulls have both proven to be great sires. We were saddened to hear of the death of Ian last year and will remember him as a dedicated cattleman and a person who quickly became a good friend.
Since that time we've used those bloodlines almost exclusively in our herd and are particularly happy with the progeny from Ebony Neuadd Knight. He throws consistent birth weights ranging from 95 to 105 lbs, produces well muscled bull calves and classy, well formed heifers all of which exhibit the great body length that he carries. His dam is still in our herd and still has an udder second to none at the age of 13 years. We have about 40 cows in our herd from this bloodline and all our current replacements are either daughters or granddaughters of Knight. Last year we AI bred these females to semen collected from a bull belonging to another Alberta breeder, Alvin Goetz of Bluffton, Alberta who has also exported semen to Australia. We calved some really impressive heifers from that breeding and they make up the bulk of the replacements we're keeping this winter.
With the re-opening of the US/Canada border to live animals under 30 months of age, the optimism that there are better times ahead has pushed the price of our Canadian cattle up to a much more encouraging level. Our hope is that the worst of the economic hardship is behind us and that farm commodity prices and cattle prices will make farming once again an enjoyable and viable entity. Without those factors, the family farm as it once was will disappear from the record books as none of our young people have had much encouragement to seek professions in the agricultural community for quite a few years. We know from news reports that Australia has experienced similar conditions because of unpredictable weather and a changing global economy and hope that we're all on an upward course for the years to come.
In closing we'd like to extend an invitation to anyone visiting in Canada to stop for a visit with us on his or her travels. It's always a pleasure to meet new people who have the same interest in the Welsh Black breed as we do and we're a good stopping point for people headed to the Rocky Mountains and British Columbia as we're just north of the major highway that heads in that direction.
We hope this finds you well into your calving season and that things are going smoothly for all. We're just beginning our fall/winter season and have been lucky enough to have sufficient feed this year to enable us to swath graze our herd until some time in January/2006. These Welsh Black cattle are great scroungers and will burrow through quite a bit of snow to get a good Christmas dinner!! We're looking forward to a quiet but enjoyable Christmas and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Regards to all,
Marion & Albert Patry
News from Germany
Posted on November 27 at 2:22PM.
In the early eighties, the first Welsh Black cattle came to Germany. The cattle derived from Welsh herds including Graig Goch, Seisog, Esgob, Llandre and Brysgaga.
In Germany Welsh Black cattle are grazed out all year round. In the summer the cattle feed on grass and in the winter they get hay and silage. In the wintertime, they have sheds so that they have somewhere dry to lie down. The calves are born throughout the year, every farmer keeps to his or her own breeding programme.
The German Welsh Black population grew and grew well into the late eighties. Then we were faced with a very big problem: BSE. The British market was closed and we could not get any new good breed sires and dams. The original Welsh Blacks were killed. Black cattle could not be sold anywhere. Some breeders took their Welsh Blacks to slaughterhouses but were turned back; no Welsh Blacks wanted. Other cattle breeds did get the chance to breed on and select more cattle.
Now the market for semen is open again and some breeders are using the chance to secure new and different bloodlines. That is our biggest problem for today. Some breeders are waiting and hoping that the British market for export cattle will be open again soon.
On the 1st of May 1993 the German Welsh Black Association was formed at The Schüttenhof, home of Hermann Maack. Our Society website is: http://www.welshblack.de/. The German Welsh Black Association has 70 members at present. They have both horned and polled Welsh Blacks. Some Welsh Black breeders take their cattle to slaughterhouses for the market, but most do it their own way and sell their beef privately.
Some German breeders visit the Royal Welsh Show in Wales every year. This helps to make many contacts with Welsh Black breeders and Society members in the United Kingdom. In Germany, we have some regional registered Welsh Black societies, who organise their own shows. The Welsh Black Association is open to breeders. At the moment the Welsh Black breed totals 0.9 % of the German national herd.
Most heifers calve down from 32 months onwards. On average, young bulls gain 1.5 kg daily. The male calves have a birthweight of between 30 and 40 kg. Female calves are a little bit smaller.
When I started breeding cattle, I looked at my possibilities: I wanted cattle hardy enough for wintering out and with good daily weight gain and with horns. I looked at Highland cattle - they have horns, they can winter out but they don't have the daily weight gain. The Galloways - better weight gain, tough and hardy but no horns. And then I saw Welsh Black cattle in the newspaper. They have horns,they are hardy for wintering out and they have good daily weight gain. I thought to myself: that's what I want! In December 1992 I started with my first Welsh Blacks - two cows in calf.
Thirteen years later, I now have fourteen 14 Welsh Blacks. I can say that it was a good choice to breed these cattle. They are easy to handle, in the fields as well as at shows, they have good mothering characteristics, they do not get nervous and are easy to feed.
It has been a great honour for me to write these few lines for the Australian Welsh Black Cattle Society Journal.
News from New Zealand
Posted on November 27 at 2:22PM.
Great to hear from you and in particular the good news regarding receiving plenty of rain and the news about Silver Metal Delmi, his semen is available in NZ this season.
Climatic wise the 2005 winter has been much drier and milder than the winter of 2004 and spring appears to be four weeks earlier which is certainly making calving easier resulting in the cows recovering quickly.
The following is a general over view of the activities from the New Zealand Welsh Black Cattle Society for the last twelve months:
The New Zealand Welsh Black Cattle Society held their AGM during the month of April which was centered in the Canterbury region which is located in the South Island. A good muster of members assembled and once the official part of the weekend was dealt with then it was to time to travel by bus to visit local member's properties and view their stock. During the 460km traveled on the Sunday not only did we see Welsh Black cattle being bred pure but also used in a cross breeding program with dairy cattle, crossed with other beef cattle breeds but also farmed organically. We also ventured deep into the Southern Alps and viewed a filming site where scenes were used for the film named Lord Of The Rings. A great weekend was had by all and now we look forward to the 2006 AGM which is to be held during mid April in the region of Northern Hawke's Bay which is located in the North Island. An open invitation is extended to any fellow Welsh Black Cattle members throughout the world to join with us on this occasion.
The NZ membership has remained strong with a slight increase in membership during the last twelve months which bodes well for the future. Many of our foundation members still remain active members but have now passed the reigns of their farming enterprises over to the next generation and unfortunately for the society many of these younger farmers are cross breeding the Welsh Black cows with other breeds endeavoring to capture higher returns from the resulting hybrid offspring.
Congratulations to the Australian Welsh Black Cattle Society on producing such a quality journal which I am sure is well received and is of interest by all who are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to come in contact with this journal. Should any overseas members be visiting the shores of New Zealand and wish to talk Welsh Black cattle or seek itinerary advice or friendly comfort stops please contact the secretary via email at email@example.com.
News from Wales
Posted on November 27 at 2:20PM.
In anticipation of the Welsh Black World Conference to be hosted by Australia in November of 2008, we thought readers might enjoy a little insight into Welsh Blacks abroad. We are fortunate to have an elite team of correspondents from around the globe: Achim Vogt from Germany, Noel Smith from New Zealand, Marion Party from Canada and Andrew James from Wales, the original home of our beloved breed. Andrew James writes:
I am pleased to contribute a summary regarding the varied activities which have kept both staff and members of the Welsh Black Cattle Society in the United Kingdom busy during 2005. Finalising our centenary celebrations, the members have witnessed continued success both in the sale and show rings. At the May AGM the members were told of the progress achieved by the society. As of 31.12.2004 there were 901 members, a ‘best ever' profit of ₤36,401, and a total of 3.098 cattle registrations including males and females. This is equivalent to registrations in 1983, which indicates we're on the right track. During 2005, up to August, we have attracted 91 new members, 84 of which have joined as potential breeding members
The Society produces an annual Herd Book, costing ₤15 + postage, and a Journal costing ₤7.50 + postage. I would urge each Society in every country to buy one, even if the cost seems high, as the volume of information and news they contain can be most useful to all breeders - some food for thought to all officials! Many overseas members will be aware of an exciting and most valued project, the building of an abattoir to slaughter Pedigree Welsh Black cattle. The ₤1.5 million project was completed by new Society member and businessman, Mr Enzo Sauro, whose "Berem herd" in Carmarthenshire now has 120 breeding females. Present to officially open the abattoir was the Society Patrol, HRH The Prince of Wales, accompanied by his new wife, the Duchess of Cornwall. We had a wonderful day and the coverage of both the abattoir and the Society can only be good for business. Enzo has contributed greatly to the Society in recent years and is a great inspiration to all. I am aware that a consignment of 150 straws of semen from bulls at Enzo's stud have been imported into Australia and I hope these much needed genetics are to your satisfaction.
The show season has just finished and members are relieved to be spending time at home, prior to attending the autumn sheep sales. After four months of shows, 42 females and 22 males competed for the prestigious ‘Bull and Female of the Year' competition and this was won by a bull and female from Ceredigon. Overall breed champion, with 63 points from 6 shows, was the 2004 Royal Welsh Supreme Beef Champion "Eirianfe Ebrill" from Messrs. A,E & Caryl Griffiths, Eirianfa Herd. Relatively new to the competition the winning bull was "Penwernhir Sambo" exhibited by Mr Doug Rowbotham whose Penwernhir Herd was established in 2001. What is pleasing to report is that the top 6 animals, both bull and female, were home bred. The reserve female of the year was a maiden heifer shown for the first time by a new member, Mrs Lyn Foxwell from Harlech. As this was also the first time Mrs Foxwell has shown cattle this was a personal achievement in itself!
At the time of writing the Society is to embark on a series of 3 dispersal sales. A relatively new herd "Llechwedd Ddu" in Harlech, North Wales (due to the owners Mr & Mrs Gwilym Lloyd emigrating to France); the well known "Tyddewi Herd" from St Davids, Pembrokeshire (as Mr & Mrs John Beynon are due to retire shortly) and the "Idloes" polled herd from Llanidloes, Mid-Wales (as owner Mr Edward Hamer is retiring due to ill health). Between these sales and 4 pedigree autumn sales we are predicting to sell over 600 pedigree breeding animals, including bulls. I believe the single most important aspect of a successful Society is the organisation of these sales. The benefits are often ten fold enabling new members to source genetics, obtain a market price which reflects supply and demand for the animals and generate a good source of income to benefit the Society through levies and commission.
Our current President is Mr Evan Tudor, Aber, Trawsfyndd, who is also Chairman of Council and he is making history by holding both posts at the same time. His appointment as Chairman follows the late Mr JP Rees who passed away suddenly on 2 January 2005. Mr Rees, a former President and Chairman of Council over many years, was also the Society's representative at the 2004 International Conference in Llandovery. As a fitting tribute to the late Mr John Rees, whose "Brysgaga Herd' is well known throughout the UK, I enclose a copy of his report for your journal. Whilst I am aware that some of you attended the conference, many will appreciate the important information it conveys.
I send best wishes to all friends of the Society around the world and if we in Wales can be of any assistance please telephone, e-mail, fax or write and we promise to be of service and support at all times.
Andrew James, Chief Executive