How they market their three breeding bulls

Livestock marketing has grown by leaps and bounds, the internet has opened up a global audience for bulls and online sales.

We talk to three breeders about marketing strategies.

See also: Rival breeder collaboration triples Angus bull sales

Rob Havard, Phepson Angus, Droitwich, Worcestershire

Rob Harvard with the Phepson Angus herd © Michael-Priestley

With practically no access other than a salt and mineral lick and an electric fence, the regenerative system has been a major attraction for a growing number of customers of Rob Havard’s Phepson Angus herd.

Mr Havard bought his first breeding Angus in 2013 and sold his first bull in 2017. He stresses that it’s still “early days” and sees what he’s doing as a 30-year project to breed cattle that thrive with such low yields.

Phepson Angus, which expects to calve 100 cows this year and is already two or three times oversubscribed for bulls and females, is growing its herd through cooperative agreements with three other breeders.

Two more flocks are set to join next year.

Mr Havard says starter herds are sold to like-minded farmers and bulls are bought back from these breeders each year, but more than paperwork and contracts, the contract is based on good working relationships and aligned systems and objectives.

Breeder Q&A

Are you selling anything online?

No, just farm-to-farm sales. Last year each bull was valued at £3,750.

What is your unique selling point?

The system we use here is a great marketing feature. We calve outdoors, which is zero-input, whole mob-grazing with compact, native-style Angus. All cows and bulls are pasture and hay bales.

We used bulls and females from different local type herds.

Cattle go back to bulls like Evesund of Dupplin, Betro of Classlochie and Gypsy Earl of Dunlouise. Eddisbury genetics also worked well.

Line breeding means slightly reduced growth and performance for us at home, but offers a real advantage for our customers, bringing greater heterosis and performance.

Do you participate in community sales?

No, we rely on developing relationships with like-minded farmers who are interested in our system.

do you advertise

We had a stand at Groundswell this year to target the progressive regenerative farming market.

We ordered branded Hawaiian shirts and handed some out at the booth. It worked really well and was a change from hats or branded vests.

Are there embryos or sperm for sale?

We have sold Kaiser straws in the UK and the Netherlands, we recently sold 2000 straws to Argentina for their grass fed market.

We are interested to see how this market will develop in the coming years.

How much do you display?

None at the moment.

Do you have an online presence?

yes, we post a lot on Twitter and took over UK Farmers Twitter page earlier this year. We also have phepsonangus.com

Has herd performance been recorded?

We record fertility at calving, calving ease, udder and foot score. Any cows that cause problems or need intervention are marked for slaughter.

But we don’t see a track record with Breedplan.

Ben Harman, Chesham and Silver Charolais herds, Buckinghamshire

Ben Harman

© Tim Scrivener

A conscious effort to produce functional, easy-calving, short-gestation bulls for dairy farmers opened up a dairy market for the Harman family in Chesham, Bucks.

Ben Harman is targeting the dairy artificial insemination (AI) market with Silver Oakman at around £5 (depending on volume), but a £500 royalty is charged to limit breeding interest.

Balthayock Musketeer is aimed at the stud market (straw with £30 royalty).

About 15-20 bulls are sold each year, about half of which are sold off-farm, and hay sales equal one bull sale each month.

A buyer is acquiring most of a 40 head cow herd (second calves and older) this October.

Bulls are graded by value (A, B and C) and selected by breeders. No trades are made. The better bullocks are taken to Welshpool and the cream is sold at Stirling.

Breeder Q&A

Are you selling anything online?

Except for breeding bulls, no. We sell at auction or privately. We try to deliver each bull personally.

What is your unique selling point?

I am happy because we are the oldest Charolais herd in Britain. I have to stand on the shoulders of my grandfather and father.

We were also able to buy from great genetics like Thrunton Fairfax. It really clicked with our cows and then Balthayock worked well on top of Musketeer Fairfax.

Do you participate in community sales?

Yes – Stirling, Welshpool and sometimes Carlisle.

do you advertise

Advertising is mainly word of mouth and the fact that we are well established. It’s nice to have a recurring habit.

Are there embryos or sperm for sale?

Yes, Silver Oakman and Balthayock Musketeer.

How much do you display?

Pre-sale shows and local shows and I am blessed to be asked to judge cattle as well.

Do you have an online presence?

I talk a lot about cows on my personal Facebook page, but it’s a soft sell.

Has herd performance been recorded?

Yes – through Breedplan with the community. We breed short-gestation, easy-calving cattle with breed-recognized Estimated Breeding Values ​​(EBVs). We need docile, conformable cattle.

John Douglas, Ervie Line One Herefords, Stranraer

The Douglas family attends the bull sale

© John Douglas

One of the UK’s few on-farm bull sales is held every February at the Mains of Airies, where buyers travel to south-west Scotland to buy Hereford bulls from the Douglas family.

Low birth weight (32kg-42kg), short gestation, uniformity and feed-based genetics from the breeding system attract Black Bald breeders, dairy farmers and dairy farmers.

The first farm sale took place in 2010 and 18 bulls were sold that day.

The family now sells around 80 bulls each year, half at farm sales run by Harry Begg, C&D Auction Marts.

There are up to 230 cows on the farm, although 100 were sold in 2020 and 90 will be sold this year over two days (October 12-14) via online bidding and a racehorse-style sale with in-person bids and buy-it-nows . price of all animals.

The farm’s production sale of Texel sheep will be held at Dumfries March on September 23, which will also be broadcast via webcam.

Each sale has been a success, but John Douglas, his wife Alexandra and their four daughters, Rosie, Ellen, Olivia and Christina, say there are always nerves at first, followed by great relief.

Breeder Q&A

Are you selling anything online?

Yes, we have used The Livestock Link, a website run by in-laws in the US, for two years. We sold 11 bulls online in February. The upset price starts at £1,900.

Some breeders buy the numbers, our reputation, and a 30-second video of the bull in action. Videos are essential for an honest representation of the animal.

What is your unique selling point?

We imported Line One Herefords from a herd in Montana, bred (35% inbred) in a very low input system in a harsh environment.

Cows are bred at Ervie, which means lower performance due to lack of heterosis at home, but more heterosis and hybrid vigor for commercial customers.

Do you participate in community sales?

Historically in Hereford, Perth and Stirling, but not 25 years.

do you advertise

Yes, we advertise in the farm press and mail out flyers to customers, sometimes tailoring them to beef or dairy farms.

We send a reminder one month before and one week before the sale

Any embryo or AI sales?

We have sold the Ervie Classic S30 through Cogent and into Ireland.

How much do you display?

While we have enjoyed local shows in the past, we are not focused on the show.

Do you have an online presence?

Limited 4G signal means we don’t do Twitter but the herd are on Facebook. We always try to link to our website ervieherefords.co.uk so people can read more about what we do.

Has herd performance been recorded? Yes, since the 1970s and now using the Breedplan system, even though imported US genetics take two years to prove themselves, the numbers seem artificially low.

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