MOVING with the times and keeping up with current market demands is essential in order to survive in the farming world, and for some that can often mean sticking with your traditional female but introducing some larger, often foreign blood for better returns. 

There have been Galloways at the Waugh family’s Kilnstown Farm for more than 140 years, and while there are 35 still pure-breds, they provide the base maternal line for the 75-strong commercial herd of mostly Salers cross Galloway cows, with a few Limousin cross Salers-Galloway females also retained. 

It’s not a new process at Kilnstown however, as the Waughs started using continental sires back in the 1990s and have now settled on the Salers breed as the ideal cross to use over the Galloway. 

The Scottish Farmer:

         The cross and pure cows are all run together

“Most heifers are covered by the Salers bull first to see how they calve, if they’re milky, good mothers, etc, and if I think she’s a good breeder she’ll be bred pure from thereon in,” explained Andrew, who farms in partnership with brother Richard, parents Frank and Anne, and sons Robert and Douglas. “Any I’m thinking not so much of will go back to the Salers and join the commercial herd. We started crossing a while back and tried Whitebred Shorthorns, Romagnola, Limousins and even Meuse Rhine Issel (MRI) bulls, and the Galloway female bred well to all, leaving very good calves. We bought our first Salers bull in 1999 to try and breed a good commercial cow. 

“We’re now quite happy with the Salers as they’ve plenty growth, are milky and leave a good stamp – you’d barely know on first glance which are pure Galloway and which are crosses,” added Andrew of the cross females which are then covered by the Limousin bull.

The Scottish Farmer:

         The cows are housed together on cubicles, with the calves having access to straw-bedded pens

With all 110 cows running together on a very commercial basis in the recently built sheds at Kilnstown and neighbouring farm, The Park, which was bought in 1999, the females have all got to pull their weight, particularly the pedigree herd. 

“We like a thick and meaty bull – with a good top! – and a growthier, low maintenance cow that will winter on silage and summer on grass,” said Andrew. 

“A Galloway wants to have plenty of milk to rear calves – which is why we cover heifers with the Salers first, to check milk quality and quantity.”
There have been a few bulls that that have made their mark on the herd, including the 11,000gns Coldplay of Fingland. A half share was later sold to the Klondyke herd, managed by Scott McKinnon, as there were a lot of daughters retained in the herd, with the first heifers by him calving at 28 months.

The Scottish Farmer:

        Buccleuch Adonis, current stock bull

Andrew also bought Buccleuch Adonis, a bull he went to see on behalf of Devon-based John Jordon, Moortown, but ended up keeping him to use over his cows as he liked him so much. He’s left a good stamp on his calves and will head down to Devon once his heifers come in to the herd. Going back to the 1980s and it was home-bred bulls, Pete of Kilnstown, and Johnjo of Kilnstown – which was bought as a calf at foot from the Corrie dispersal – as well as Huntly Yarrow that established the herd into what you see today. 

Calving is a busy period for the Waughs as the spring calving starts at the end of March and continues through to June, while the autumn calvers start in early September through to November. This is made easier thanks to the majority of the previous year’s spring-born calves being sold by the middle of March – bar the best, showiest calves – which frees up space in the sheds. The batch of calves born in spring, 2016, averaged £950 at 10 to 11 months, which is similar to the £950 paid for the autumn-born calves aged 11 to 13 months. 

The Scottish Farmer:

         Young, cross-bred calves

Looking ahead to this year’s sale of store calves, Andrew weighed the 2017-born group at the beginning of January when they weighed 350kg to 450kg – but reckons the heaviest are out of the initial Salers cross Galloway females ‘as the continental breeding in the calf produces more shape but lower weights’. 

The Scottish Farmer:

        Last year's calves will be sold in the next few months

While selling pedigree livestock at Castle Douglas is the aim of the game, the income from some of the flashier calves, both pedigree and cross, sold at a show and sale at Carlisle, is not to be sniffed at, having peaked at £3000. 

There’s a fair degree of pride to be taken in the sale of these animals too, many of which have gone on to reap the rewards for their new owners. One such owner was Marion Paul, whose Mr Muscle went to the Beef Expo in 2006 where he was reserve supreme champion, but Andrew reckons his downfall was he was too good as producers couldn’t quite believe he was a Galloway and not of continental breeding. 

Furthermore, Super Mario, one owned by the Alford family, from Devon, was the first Galloway to win the Queen’s Cup at Smithfield and was also champion pure-bred beast, beating all the continental breeds, at the 2010 Scottish Winter Fair. 

The Scottish Farmer:

         This year's two Castle Douglas entries - Yorkshire of Kilnstown (left) and Youth of Kilnstown

But it’s the Castle Douglas sale that reaps the most rewards, with a top price of 6000gns paid for Ruler of Kilnstown back in 2011. Last year, too, the team achieved the equal top price at Castle Douglas when Xavi of Kilnstown sold to Jim Robertson, Becks, for 5000gns. He was bred from Doreen 31 of Kilnstown, which also bred the Alfords’ Super Mario as well as Malcolm Telfer’s Digby, the native champion at the 2013 Scottish Winter Fair. 

This year, two young bulls will be making the journey to Castle Douglas. Youth of Kilnstown, a 10-month-old by Buccleuch Adonis, is out of the ‘big, long, modern cow’, Ramble Rose of Castlefern. 

The Scottish Farmer:

          Yorkshire of Kilnstown, a 17-month-old by Adonis

His byre mate, Yorkshire of Kilnstown, is another Adonis son but this time a bit older at 17 months and bred from the same dam as Ruler, Edna 48 of Kilnstown. 

Farming the 1000-acres of Kilnstown and The Park, set on wet clay ground near Bewcastle, just south of the Border, doesn’t come without its challenges and the wet weather is one of the biggest of all. 

“The biggest challenge this winter is the cost of straw. Luckily we bought some in September when it wasn’t that dear but we will need to get some more at some point,” commented Andrew. 

“Another issue is getting the silage off the fields as the weather can get the better of us. Last year we took our first cut in the middle of June compared to the usual July harvest because we had a fair bit left from the year before. This worked out fine but this last autumn the cows came in a few months earlier so are hoping we have plenty to see us to the spring.” 

Frank continued: “It’s definitely getting wetter each year as up until 1995 we only made hay, but now struggle to get any silage cut.I’ve seen us change from horse and cart to tractors and it used to be that we were self-sufficient, growing corn, turnips and fodder to feed the stock – times have certainly changed.” 

With all that’s going on it’s a good job Andrew’s sons, Robert and Douglas, the seventh generation of Waughs at Kilnstown, are keen to lend a hand, and with Andrew and Douglas taking take of the cattle, it’s up to Richard and Robert to look after the 1000-ewe flock of Swaledales. 

Of those 1000 females, 300 are bred pure with the remaining 700 crossed by a Bluefaced Leicester to produce Greyface Mule ewe lambs for sale at Carlisle. These have peaked at £310 for a pen of 10 – of which a pair went on to win the Mule title at the Agri-Expo for Graham Jackson, High Bentham – and averaged £103 for 650 last year. 

Any Mule wedders are sold from August onwards while the Swaledales are left entire and sold deadweight as hoggs, with the last batch of 40 cashing in to average £83. There’s also a 25-strong flock of Bluefaced Leicesters, the crossing type, to produce rams used at home as well as for sale, which peaked at £5500 at Hawes back in 2016. 

The Scottish Farmer:

         These heifer stirks will join the herd next year

At the end of the day, however, Andrew is open to admitting the tried and tested system used at Kilnstown may not be for everyone: “It’s up to individual breeders what they want as different types of cattle suit different farms. It’s no good preaching to folk, particularly as we might end up changing our system in years to come.

“We could try getting in to different breeds but you could easily spend a lot of money and not be any better off, so the Galloway is here to stay,” he concluded.