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Sandyknowe Suffolk trade soars

The Coachhouse herd, owned by Messrs Heald & Co of Retford, Nottinghamshire, has been recognised by AHDB Beef and Lamb as the runner up for the Most Improved Herd of Limousin cattle in England for 2014.

Home Farm has been farmed by the family since the 1940s, Barry and Gill Heald took over from Gill’s father in 1975 and manages it together with their son Matthew.

The farm covers 360 acres, with Coachhouse Limousins being the main enterprise with over 300 pedigree cattle including followers. Alongside the cattle there is 155 acres arable land used for wheat and barley production, as well as 45 acres grass leys in rotation which are cut for silage. They buy in additional straw and mix their own rations, ensuring the system is as economic as possible.

Barry and Gill described the attributes of the Limousin breed as easy calving cattle, with good longevity and vigour at birth. Limousins prove to be easy fleshing, achieving good killing out percentages, and being favourable with meat purchasers.

The Coachhouse herd has been performance recorded since the early 2000’s to provide a tool to monitor performance. Barry and Gill soon recognised additional benefits of recording, especially at sale where breeding values behind a bull helps to sell an animal, a factor that’s becoming of increasing importance in today’s society sales.

“A lot of buyers look at figures when buying, some with great interest,” Gill said.

“It is becoming clear that animals with good figures behind them are attracting better prices through the sales.”

Using Top Bulls to Continue to Develop the Herd

They use three stock bulls to work with their cattle; all of which are mature, proven sires maintaining EBVs in the top 1% for the breed. New bulls joining the herd, or female replacements for the herd, must first of all have a correct breed type offering both size and length. Once satisfied they focus on its performance figures, paying attention to the 200 and 400 Weight EBVs, as well as the dam’s family line and maternal EBVs.

The Heald family enjoyed a successful day at the Limousin Day at Newark in April this year where they were awarded reserve intermediate champion for Coachhouse Hathaway born June 2012, by Mereside Daytona out of Coachhouse Rouge. They took five bulls, achieving an average price of £4560, four sired by Mereside Daytona, who scores 47, and is currently in the top 1% of the breed.

Messrs Heald also led the pedigree heifer trade at this event with 5000gns for the reserve female champion, Coachhouse Incarnation. In total selling 9 heifers aged 12-14 months, the first progeny of Rachels Ferrari to be sold, and averaging £3068.