The back-end is a hectic time for all farmers, but it is particularly busy for cattle breeder Ian Nimmo and his family, who are well known for producing some of Scotland's best pedigree and commercial Limousin bulls.

Ian’s association with the breed dates back almost 30 years when the family’s Maraiscote herd was established in 1992 at the 500-acre home farm at Bogside, Newmains, Lanarkshire. They also now rent an additional 250 grassland acres nearby to accommodate their large cattle enterprise.

Ian and son Andrew work fulltime on the farm while Ian’s wife Moyra handles all the farm paperwork. Daughter Jillian is a nurse and helps out when she can and young Sophie Harvey has been assisting with the show and sale cattle for the past year.

In contrast to a large number of pedigree herds which have been built up from females bought from numerous units, the Maraiscote herd goes back to just five females – three in-calf heifers purchased at the Hampton dispersal in 1992 and two cows and calves bought the following year from the Peasley on-farm dispersal in Stafford.

"Everything in the herd is bred from these five females – they have been a great buy and have bred really well for us," said Ian who has always been a fan of this muscly, red French breed.

Artificial insemination was relied upon for the first few years, with the first stock bull Tyddyn Mei, bought at Carlisle in 1997 for 7600gns. A son of Broadmeadows Cannon, he went on to produce some of the best breeding animals in the herd with a lot of the bulls sold today tracing back to his breeding. The herd has been closed since 2001, with only stock bulls coming onto the farm.

The herd consists of 150 pedigree Limousin cows with the majority calving in the spring which suits the farm better as young calves go out to grass as early as possible, thereby reducing the risk of disease, whilst also freeing up shed space.

All males are kept entire until they are ready to finish at around 14-15 months or when they are as close to the 670kg as possible, with the best bulls kept on for society sales.

All females are run commercially with little attention given to them – they don’t get extra feeding as they are easy enough to flesh off young grass, Ian said.

The best heifers are retained for breeding and the bottom end that don’t make the grade, sold deadweight through Highland Meats at 380kg. All animals sold deadweight are finished on LS Smellie's own blend cereal finisher.

Show enthusiasts, the Nimmo family look to support their local shows and also attend two national events in The Royal Highland and the Great Yorkshire, where they have enjoyed notable success over the years securing the supreme championship at the Highland with Virginia Andy in 2009 and with the home-bred bull, Maraiscote Floyd in 2011, which was just 13 months old at the time.

Regular winners of the junior male championship at the Ingliston event, they have also bagged the junior inter-breed honours at the Great Yorkshire and the male title at Harrogate.

Back on home turf, Maraiscote has won the Scottish Limousin herds contest twice and last year picked up the progeny award and the best calf trophy, with youngsters by the 50,000gns Bassingfield Machoman.

Several stock bulls have stamped their mark over the years, with one of the best being Virginia Andy, purchased for 5000gns at Carlisle in 2007. His progeny went on to triumph at major shows and society sales, but more importantly, his females left a real legacy as some of the best breeding females.

Another star performer has been Goldies Comet, bought at Carlisle in partnership with David Baillie, Calla, for 23,000gns.

Andrew added: “Comet has bred really well for us; he clicked with the Andy females from day one, right up until the current day leaving a great type with strong heads, great carcase qualities with no compromise when it comes to ease of calving or milkiness in the females," he said adding that Comet sons include a former Highland Show champion, and several bulls reaching five-figure prices to a top of 30,000gns.

The herd's main stock bull now, Bassingfield Machoman, was purchased at Carlisle 2017.

“He caught our eye as soon as we saw him, he showed real breed characteristics which have been bestowed in his progeny,” said Ian.

Notably, the Nimmos have 12 bulls up for grabs between Stirling and Carlisle, to include four Machoman sons and four by Goldies Comet. Others are by Roundhill Ladysman, a bull bought privately at the Irish ILC in 2016 alongside his dam, in a joint purchase with David Baillie, Calla and Rutland Jet bought in partnership with Jonathan Watson, at Roscrea.

The farm is also home to 420 mule ewe flock which are all crossed to a Texel, with replacements bought through the local market. All progeny are fattened off grass and sold deadweight.

While the Limousins have always been commercially managed at Bogside, there is huge concern for the future of the farming industry and particularly the livestock sector.

It's one which is of real concern for beef farmers too especially with prime beef values virtually on their knees.

"We fear for the industry when people fail to understand reality and publicise false propaganda that is aimed at hurting an already struggling sector. It’s such a slap in the face to the entire livestock sector – we need positive publicity and firm facts to educate the public and the media on what a positive industry farming is," concluded Ian.