With a reputation of producing some of the highest quality beef in the world, combined with its ease of management, good temperament and hardiness, the Aberdeen-Angus is proving to be the most reliant breed for Northumbrian-based farmer, Daniel Whiteford.

Responsible for the management of 750 acres of arable and grazing ground based near the Berwick-Upon-Tweed coastline, Daniel and his parents certainly have their hands full, however, they believe that the Angus has eased his workload and benefitted the enterprise both physically and financially.

“The majority of our grazing is located along the coast line and is naturally a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and part of an HLS Scheme, meaning we have limited cultivation options and are restricted on our fertiliser inputs – so the land is predominately composed of unimproved pasture,” said Daniel.

“We needed stock to eat the grass along the coastline and looked at introducing cattle, we felt a native breed would be most suitable around the general public and could thrive on rough forage throughout the winter,” he added.

In 2002, Daniel’s father, John, made the decision to purchase the complete spring-calving herd from Mr Green’s Dunlappie herd from Edzell in Angus, thus founding the Borewell Aberdeen-Angus herd.

“Dunlappie was dispersing giving us the opportunity to purchase 40 cows, which were our foundation females that were run commercially for a year. After receiving the pedigree certificates for those females, I became more interested in pedigree breeding and that’s when we started registering,” Daniel explained.

“We purchased all the Dunlappie cattle for £550 per cow in-calf with a calf at foot, which – with prices for beef being so bad at that time – wasn’t a bad investment!”

As well as the Dunlappie cattle, a further 30 in-calf cows from Irwin and Dilys Rowe’s Bosullow herd, based in Penzance, were purchased. Herd numbers now sit at 120 cows plus followers and the Angus is proving to be the all-round perfect breed at Borewell.

“The Angus’ ability to thrive on rough grazing and unimproved pastures is fantastic and exactly what we needed,” Daniel said. “We haven’t actually tried any other breeds but I have seen other producers try to do the same with more continental types of cattle, which don’t appear to flourish as well as the Angus.”

“One of the most important aspects is the breed’s temperament. We see a lot of coastal walkers around where our cattle graze, so we need to have cows with a placid temperament”

After the initial purchase of breeding stock, Borewell Angus is now run as a closed herd except for a particular female or bull that may be necessary.

“We retain around 25 of the very best heifers, however, once we reach the 150 cow mark we will look at selling females annually. The second draft of females are reared for beef,” Daniel commented.

Calving is straightforward with the breed too, and Daniel rarely has to intervene. Not only are the calves easy calved, but they are also vigorous and quick to get to their feet and suckle.

Calving kicks off at the end of February and runs through into April, with heifers calving down at two-years of age. All are calved inside and are put out to grass as soon as the calves are suckled and confident on their feet.

Weaning takes place late October when calves are split up and introduced to concentrates.

“All females are fed silage and 2kg of mineralised barley, whilst the best bulls for breeding purposes are fed a growing ration to achieve a minimum of 1.5kg per day. The ration ensures that they are not pushed too hard but that they maintain condition,” said Daniel.

“The remaining males are kept entire and reared on a home-grown barley beef system for selling by mid-May the following year. We work closely with Ian Watson of Performance Feeds, who advised us to roll all our barley and treat it with ALpHA from Norvite and is then put into an AgBag to raise the protein level of the feed.”

In a typical year, such young bulls are finished at 14-months of age to produce 330kg carcases. Having selected the best type of cows for the ground, Daniel has also concentrated on selecting superior quality bulls for his females.

These include two from the Worcestershire-based Nightingale Angus herd, in the form of Perry and Parson, purchased privately for £10,000 and £15,000 respectively.

“Both of those bulls bred the type of females we were striving to breed with their daughters growing into big, scopey females with good feet and udders. Semen from Parson has been sold to various countries around the world, including Australia” explained Daniel.

Another bull that produced the goods was Blelack Explosive. He bred the herd’s top priced male to date – Borewell Black Magic T033, which made 11,000gns at United Auctions’ February Bull Sales, in 2019.

Re-investing that money and a bit more, the business then went to 12,000gns to buy the junior champion at UA’s October sales the same year. That was Brailes Fabulous and it is his progeny that is now coming to the fore.

“I like to concentrate on breed character when looking for a potential stock bull and aim to buy a bull with a good front and a lot of length – like the rest of our cattle at home.

“Due to the topography, bulls have to be easy fleshed and have the ability to do well on our ground. If I buy an Angus bull that finds it difficult to thrive then his daughters will struggle too.”

Daniel also operates a strict culling policy to ensure only the best is retained to breed from.

“I’m hard when it comes to feet and udders. It’s only myself and my Dad working with the cows and we don’t have time to turn cows and sort feet – they have to have minimal issues,” he added.

“We work quietly with the cattle and try to respect them, so temperament is also something we scrutinise and we won’t buy bulls with a bad temperament as it passes down the generations.”

While cattle are important to the farm and benefit the acres unable to be cropped, most of the business revolves around 400acres of arable ground producing wheat, oilseed rape, oats and barley.

The family has also diversified into tourism with 29 wigwams on site. “In 2000, my parents started to look towards diversifying so we built a restaurant, farm shop and art centre in separate buildings, before then branching out in 2005 by investing in 12 wooden wigwams as a glamping site,” he explained.

“From there, we have increased the size of that venture and annually receive 25-30,000 visitors. It’s very enjoyable and rewarding watching families coming from big cities to explore the great outdoors. With the Aberdeen-Angus being an easycare breed it has allowed us to focus more on our diversification venture in the good knowledge that the cows don’t require much summer attention,” Daniel added.

Commenting on the future of the breed in a post-Brexit world, Daniel concluded: “I am very wary of the uncertainty in the industry when Basic Farm Payments are going to be reduced and with no clear future, it’s a worrying topic. Coming out of the EU will undoubtedly give us a lot of opportunity as a country and industry, we have to harness that opportunity and make the most of it.”

Borewell has a quality line up of seven bulls entered for the breed sale at Carlisle on May 22.