Mains Rigg Farm, Whitfield, Northumberland, NE47 8HR. 

Farm manager at Mains Rigg Farm Whitfield, Bevis Jordan opened the gates to the estate’s impressive 125-head suckler herd for the National Beef Association’s (NBA) northern region autumn farm walk on 17th October.

Jordan has been working with the estate for over 20 years, growing the suckler business into a low-input system producing top quality suckled calves and herd replacements year on year.

He explained that the business model was altered from the farm buying in replacements to breeding its own with the aim of reducing disease risk and improving consistency. He selected the Salers breed to produce maternal replacements.

He explained that the business model was altered from the farm buying in replacements to breeding its own with the aim of reducing disease risk and improving consistency. He selected the Salers breed to produce maternal replacements.

The herd consists of medium-sized Salers cross cattle with heifers and the Top 10% of cows bred to a Salers bull and the remainder are bred to Limousin stock bulls.

The herd achieves over 90% of calves weaned year on year, the majority of cattle calving within a nine-week block with negligible difficulties and all replacement heifers calving at two years old.

Pelvic measuring

Jordan puts the herds exceptional calving ease down to the annual pelvic area measuring of potential replacement heifers to ensure that they are fit to calve themselves.

Jordan first saw the tool in practice on a trip to the US and was determined to bring it back to Mains Rigg.

After discussion with Karl Collins, his local vet, the pair set about annually measuring replacement heifers and removing those with measurements too small to calve naturally.

Since implementing pelvic measuring there has been a marked decrease in assisted births, only one or two each year, and no caesareans.

Collins was on hand at the farm walk to demonstrate how pelvic measuring works on a group of 2017 heifers.