It’s always great catching up with new Aberdeen-Angus members and this is something that we’re going to be looking to do more frequently, using the power of the website and social media to introduce them to all members, not just us that work in the office! Recently we’ve been catching up with Douglas Frame from Birks Farm in Carluke. We’ve been picking Douglas’ brains to learn more about him and what his plans are after being recently welcomed into the world of Aberdeen-Angus.
What is your background?
“Our own herd was only founded this year as I bought 2 pedigree cows from Kincardine Castle that have now both calved. We have used Aberdeen-Angus bulls for the last 30 years at home but never really bred any pedigree ones of our own which I have decided to try. I chose the herd name Shawgill as that is what our steading across the road is called.”
What is the scale of your operation?
“We are farming about 500 acres, growing 35 acres of spring barley and running 200 ewes along with our cattle enterprise. We currently are running 125 Aberdeen-Angus cross commercial cows, finishing everything on farm at 24 months on a grass-based, low-input system. We have really focused on low input throughout our whole herd which is why the Aberdeen-Angus suits us so well. In 2017 our cows put to the bull, to calves weaned, was 97% with an assistance rate of 3% (any sort of handling at calving, tubing/calved/assistance suckling) with 90% of the cows calved in the first 9 weeks.”
How did you get involved with Aberdeen-Angus?
“We’ve been commercial Angus breeders for about 30 years and this is where my interest for the breed has come from. There isn’t a better sight than a field of black cows and calves in my opinion, they are easily fleshed, suit a low input system and their eating quality is second to none.
“I started off on our family farm being more interested in sheep as they were more suited to me size-wise when I was younger rather than ‘overly protective’ Angus mothers! Over the past 5 years of working at home, I’ve really enjoyed working with our cattle, getting more information on our herd through keeping more detailed statistics and using this to try to improve the efficiency and output.”
Any notable achievements at shows and sales or other events?
“Since I’ve never really had any pedigrees to show I don’t have any successes in the show ring. We have however won the Scotbeef Aberdeen-Angus Finishing competition in 2014 and 2016 which is an achievement that we’re quite proud of.”
What is your current focus/concentration for the herd?
“My current focus on our herd is to improve the efficiency by weighing mothers and calves at weaning to see the % of body weight weaned, to see what cows in the herd are underperforming. Over the past 10 years we’ve really focused on the fertility side of things as that is the main focus of any beef herd in my opinion, but we are now looking to improve the cows and try and reduce the gap between the bottom and top end of the herd.”
What are your ambitions for the future?
“My ambition for the future is to increase the pure numbers slightly, I don’t think we would go full pedigree but you never know. I’d like to be able to breed our own bulls for using and also have a bit of fun in the show ring!”
We extend a warm welcome to Douglas as a new member to the Society and thank him for letting us learn more about his work. We look forward to seeing you on the show scene soon!