North East-bred Charolais bulls were the big money makers at Stirling bull sales this week, with two out of the three top sellers in the breed from Thropton-based Chris Curry. Karen Dent reports.
NORTHUMBERLAND Charolais breeders enjoyed a hugely successful day at the breed’s official spring sale in Stirling this week.
Commercial buyers led demand at Tuesday’s sale, where bidding peaked at 28,000gns and 27 lots were sold for five-figure sums, with the overall sale total hitting £1.2m.
The second highest grossing bull of the day was the 26,000gns first prize winner, Burradon Garibaldi, a 21-month-old from Chris Curry of Thropton near Morpeth. Sired by the 12,000gns Gwenog Banjo, Garibaldi was out of Burradon Peach. He was secured by two buyers – the Campbells who run the Thrunton herd at Alnwick, and Neil and Stuart Barclay’s Harestone herd based at Insch.
Mr Curry’s success continued with offers on two more Banjo sons, which together with Garibaldi stood in reserve place in the group of three and sold to average £19,666.
Burradon Goldenballs was secured for 22,000gns in a split bid from Billy and Sarah Turner, Skelton on Ure, Ripon, and the Blyth family of Elwick, Hartlepool.
The third Banjo son, Burradon Goodfellow, sold for 11,000gns to EB Wilson and Sons, Balfron, Glasgow.
Gwenog Banjo was bought in partnership with Alan Lawson from Hallington for 12,000gns in Perth five years ago. The previous top price for his sons was 9,500gns at Stirling last February.
Mr Curry, who farms 350 acres at Low Burradon near Thropton with his wife Helen, has about 30 Charolais cows, 250 breeding ewes, 120 acres of cereals and 1,600 breeding ducks.
He said the sale was his proudest day in 25 years of breeding Charolais.
“I knew we had three good bulls and there was a lot of interest in them and they did well in the pre-sale show with two of them winning their class and the other one second in his class, but you just never know if that interest will develop into bids,” said Mr Curry.
“There’s a lot of work involved in getting the bulls prepared for the sales, made all the more difficult for me by the fact that I work full-time as a funeral director.
“Colin Cook looks after the animals day-to-day, but I do most of the halter training, washing etc so that means working evenings and weekends.
“It's just really nice when it all comes together because you get a lot of set-backs and frustrating days breeding pedigree stock.”
Burradon Garibaldi’s mother is now 13 years old now and Mr Curry said her first calf was one of the best bulls he bred but he broke his leg fighting and had to be put down.
“That was in 2003, exactly one week after we had won the championship at Carlisle with Burradon Talisman and sold him to the Campbells for 15,000gns,” said Mr Cook.
“That just illustrates the highs and lows of pedigree breeding. But it’s quite nice that what is probably her last bull calf has gone on to do so well. If he’s half as successful as Talisman was he’ll be all right. When our son Cameron was travelling in Australia three years ago he went to the Sydney show and every class of Charolais cattle was won by progeny of either Talisman or Thrunton Voldemort (a Talisman son).
“I'm pleased that all three bulls have gone to pedigree breeders and will be working across five good herds, giving them a great opportunity to prove themselves. Hopefully we’ll hear a lot more of them.
“My dream is to breed the champion bull at Stirling. I think we came fairly close this time but maybe one day!”
The Campbells, father Colin, sons, Ian and John and their sons, Bruce, Andrew and Edward, took two of the six top award-winning slots, the best group of three with sons by their 26,000gns senior stock bull Balmyle Dickler.
There was a total clearance of the 14 Thurnton entries at the sale, with intermediate reserve champion, Thrunton Guardsman, achieving their highest 12,000gns price tag. He went to Jim Innes and Sons, of Huntly, who were returning to use Charolais over their suckler herds.
Next at 11,000gns was Thrunton Goldnugget, who went to Lour Farms, Forfar; 18-month-old Thrunton Goldeneye made 10,000gns to David and Louise Barker, Nuthampstead, Royston, and junior champion, Thrunton Goshawk, made 9,000gns to Neil and Stuart Barclay, Harestone, Insch.
British Charolais Society chairman Alasdair Houston said: “The day’s consistent trade firmly reflected breeders’ ability to offer modern British Charolais bulls that meet with commercial producers two main requirements – they’re leaving progeny with a shorter gestation more easily calved and without sacrificing growth and eye muscle area.
“It’s been a tough 12 months for livestock farmers, and when times are hard, these commercial men are fully aware that Charolais calves are commanding premiums in the store ring, and an increasing number are seeking a slice of that action.”