Friday, 28 October 2011

Away day again... The Holme (Newcastleton) blue grey sale

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Once again Shep disappeared off to a mart. Just over the border into Scotland is Newcastleton, renowned for it's two day sale of blue grey cattle. Yup! you heard right - cattle, not sheep for once. Once again the offer of a lift was made and Shep took it up, I was grinning to myself that I keep turning up at marts with different fellas - they say variety is the spice of life!

Newcastleton Mart has long been a focal point for blue grey cattle sales, a trip down memory lane as in my youth, when first working, the boss and I used to sell cattle there and low and behold, the mart and sale still exist. Other sales we attended at Haltwhistle, Rothbury and Bellingham no longer exist but Newcastleton does!

I did attend the mart half a dozen years ago but since then there have been further changes, subtle and necessary changes. The pens have been rebuilt, wooden gates have been replaced by metal ones, but other than that there is little difference since many years ago when we would be selling cattle there. The mart still retains it's character.Quite a treat nowadays!

I've written in the past that I have a soft spot for the humble Galloway cow, a black, hairy, hardy beast which used to prolific in hill areas. The blue grey is a cross bred beast out of the Galloway, sire being a White Shorthorn. The end result being a hardy beast with less hair than the mother possesses, a good carcase animal which will cross well with continental breeds. It also tends to take on a grey look, which I guess is what you get when you cross black with white! There are a variety of colourations, with 'red' ones thrown on occasion also.
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Cattle waiting to enter the ring
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suckler calves in the ring being sold There are a range of ages of heifers on sale on the first day of the two day sale, there are ones such as these known as sucklers, weaned straight off their mothers and taken to be sold. These were off Ottercops and realised £460 each.
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There are then bulling heifers such as the ones above from High Thorneyburn. These are mature, a year older than the suckler calves and old enough to go to the bull, hence the reason they are known as bulling heifers. The consigment from this particular farm averaged £1,027 a head. It is also possible to buy incalf heifers at the sale. Those which have been run with a bull and served, they have usually been 'scanned' and are guaranteed in calf.
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Cattle penned up after they have been sold, as you can see, there is an odd 'red' one. Notice the numbered labels on their rumps, these are attached to the beast prior to going into the ring, quite literally stuck on with glue which eventually weathers off and causes no discomfort to the animal at all. The numbered labels give everyone a quick and easy reference as to the animal and who bought it. These cattle are now waiting to be loaded onto a wagon and head for their new homes where they will hopefully live and breed for a few years to come.

The day didn't quite go as planned, there were issues with cars, trying to be organised Shep waited patiently outside her cottage for the arranged lift to appear, not knowing they were trying to 'phone me to inform me they had broken down. There must be something in the air.......... Eventually all was sorted and I found myself able to return favours, come to the rescue and take my own car, which still looks clean and respectable due to the fact I have only had it for a week, my passengers didn't have cause to hold their noses during the journey!
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I'll leave you with this shot of two Highland heifers which were the last cattle through the ring, I thought they looked cute, a bit of a teddy bear look about them. The second day of the sale is for bullocks (castrated male calves) which will also range from 6 - 18 months of age. Shep wont be in attendance, breeding sales are more interesting and work needs to be done.


Dafad said...

Hi Shep,
No need to publish this comment. Sounds as is you've been busy and, have a new set of wheels. Hurrah!
A friend suggested that I let you know about my attempts at a blog.
So, only if you want to, check out
Yours inspired me to give it a go!
Happy Halloween, where on my blog,
sheep make a silly appearance.
All the best.