With Brexit now happening and livestock farmers facing a time of huge uncertainty, the Wordie family believe they have found the ideal for their farming system and are sticking to what they know best – producing top quality beef cattle and sheep.

George, alongside his wife, Margo and daughter, Nicola, have farmed at Mains of Cairnborrow for 20 years, after taking over the reins from his father and brother in the year 2000. Daughter Nicola has returned home to work with her dad, while siblings, James and Sarah, come home to help at lambing and other busy spells.

With the aim of producing the best beef cattle bound for market, George has ensured that he has the best breeds in place to do so.

“We run a herd of 220 Simmental cross cows and I find them perfect because of their size and mothering abilities,” George said.

“They are smaller cattle, averaging around 650kg compared to pure Simmentals weighing in at 800kg, which is just too big in my opinion. The cows are very milky and have a great temperament, which is important when we are handling them so regularly.”

George’s entire herd has been sourced from Southern Ireland, from various breeders, with two batches of 25 bulling heifers being purchased each year – in the spring and autumn seasons – for replacement purposes.

On arrival at the farm, the family have a system in place to ensure any spread of disease is kept to a minimum. “Once a new batch of heifers arrive, they are kept separate from the main herd and isolated until they calf so we can monitor them for any signs of disease,” Margo said.

“We vaccinate as a method of disease prevention and also blood test them for BVD on arrival. These precautions ensure we retain our high health status,” George added.

Two different breeds of bulls are used over the Simmental crosses – Limousin and Charolais – and both play an important role within the overall farming system.

George also sets his standards high when selecting a new stock bull too. “Locomotion is the number one aspect that I look for when buying a bull – they need to move well and be fit for work,” he stated.

“I’m also looking for a lengthy bull with a good top and temperament – something that I can see working in my system with my cows.”

Two bulls that have made their mark on the herd include the well named black Limousin, Westhall Black Justthejob, purchased for 6500gns from Mary Fotheringham and Hazel McNee, Over Finlarg, Dundee, at United Auctions’ Bull Sales, in Stirling, 2016.

Also purchased at Stirling, in 2015, was the Charolais bull, Balthayock Imperial, bought for 11,000gns from Perth-based breeders, Major Walter and his son, Nick, Balthayock.

“We use the black Limousin bull on our heifers for an easier calving, as he produces smaller, vigorous calves that put on flesh easily,” George said.

“Our Charolais bull, Imperial, has been one of the best bulls we’ve bought. He’s producing good lengthy calves that are easily putting on weight, and have a great temperament.”

In order to produce a more uniform group of calves, George has set his bulling period to 10 weeks with bulling groups restricted to 25, usually remaining with the same bull throughout the time period.

The herd is split into two calving groups – spring and autumn calvers – consisting of 110 cows in each.

Spring calvers are out-wintered, supplemented with baled silage, before being brought inside at the end of January for the beginning of calving mid-February through until the end of April.

Autumn calvers are calved outdoors from mid-August until October and are then brought indoors over the winter months until May. All cattle are fed a silage and straw mixture when housed.

Once calves are weaned in November, they are brought indoors and fed a diet consisting of silage, home grown barley and some protein, in preparation for being sold in February.

Autumn calves are weaned in August onto silage aftermath and sold in two batches in September and October.

“We sell all our calves as yearlings, at Thainstone market and they seem to always attract buyers,” commented George.

All cattle are sold liveweight through the ring with males, on average, weighing in at around 470kg and heifers at 420kg.

Last year, the family sold a total of 95 males and 105 females, with the spring calvers meeting a higher price per head than the autumn group, selling to £1105 for males and £1032 for females.

George also has high standards when it comes to culling, ensuring only healthy and productive females are retained.

“I usually cull anything not in calf after checking her calving history. Usually, there can be reason for not going back in calf. Occasionally, they will get another chance as its only a six-month gap with the split calving. However, bad temperament would be culled,” stated George.

The family also runs a flock of 685 breeding Scotch Mule ewes, all of which are put to a Texel tup to produce top quality fat lambs. “The Mules fit our system and correspond with the cattle perfectly,” commented Nicola.

“I like the Mules because they are great mothers which are also hardy and milky,” added George.

Like the cattle, George buys in all his replacements as gimmers, around 200 per year, from Thainstone market.

With a scanning percentage of 201% this year, the Mules are proving their hardiness on the rough hills of Huntly, with the help of some feeding along the way.

“The ewes are always in great condition on the run up to lambing, however, we do introduce concentrates around six weeks before they are due to lamb and turnips during lambing itself to help take the pressure off the ewes,” George said.

The flock are all lambed outside, which can be a challenge when faced with the harsh weather conditions of northern Scotland.

“The only downside with the Mules is that they have big udders and barer fleeces, meaning we do get some issues with mastitis when the colder weather hits,” Nicola commented.

Weaning occurs in early August, with fat lambs being marketed via Dunbia, going every two weeks from mid June around 21kg deadweight.

Last year, the family sold 1010 lambs at the end of September to average £78 per head.

The family also runs a small flock of pure-bred Texels in order to breed stock rams, however, but invest in the occasional tup to introduce some new breeding.

“When buying a tup I’m looking for a tight skin, length and checking the usual areas – teeth, testicles and feet – for any abnormalities,” stated George.

Commenting on the future of Scottish agriculture and where they lie within the industry, George added: “Hopefully, we will still be here, however cow numbers are decreasing and there’s not so many young people interested in cattle farming anymore.

"Farmers are getting hit with a big stick at the moment with climate change issues being more of an awareness, and I believe we, as an industry, are taking the brunt of the blame, which is wrong.”

“Education plays a huge role within this problem and the main message that we need to get across is to eat seasonally and to eat locally. We are utilising the landscape as best as we can and we are proud about what we produce,” pointed out Margo.


  • The family farm 1350 acres, rising to 1000ft above sea level.
  • Cropping – 100 acres of spring barley, eight acres of turnips, with the remainder grass.
  • Cattle – business relies on 220 Simmental cross cows and Limousin and Charolais bulls. Herd is split in two for calving, with 110 spring and autumn calvers.
  • Sheep – running a flock of 685 breeding Scotch Mules, which are put to a Texel tup. Lambing occurs outdoors in March/April.
  • Heifers mainly calf at two and a half-years-old.
  • One full time employee – Graham Dow – that has worked alongside the family for eight years.
  • Diversification in renting land for five wind turbines as well as managing three farm cottages, which are rented out for residential purposes.
  • The farm is involved with a variety of schemes including the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme and the family also work alongside RNCI and speak to school children about agriculture.


  1. Biggest achievement – Being able to pass the farm onto the next generation in a better state than when I started running it. Also, producing top quality stock and maintaining that standard.
  2. Best advice – There's two certain things in life – death and taxes – so don't burn the candle at both ends and pay your share!
  3. Where do you want to be in 2030? – Retired!
  4. Hobbies – I love shooting in the winter and I eat everything that I shoot. Margo and Nicola also have their own hobbies – Margo enjoys cooking and craft work whilst Nicola is involved in her local Young Farmers club.
  5. Best holiday – Our family holiday to America, in 2007, was definitely a trip to remember.
  6. Favourite restaurant – We were given a gift voucher to Lympstone Manor, in Exmouth, and the food was fantastic but very expensive so thank goodness for the voucher!
  7. Biggest investment outwith the farm – Working on the wind farm project, it took 11 years!