Lots of people ask "what breed are your cattle?"
This is not an unreasonable question, but in our case its not entirely straight forward. We currently have two bulls, Nigel a pedigree Hereford, and Rambo a Stabilizer. Herefords are a native british breed. They are the result of hundreds of years of farmers selecting cattle that worked for them in their environment, originally in Herefordshire, but such was the popularity they were exported around the world. Nigel was chosen for his specific meat producing qualities. He came as an embryo from Australia, so is kind of well travelled.
Rambo is quite a different beast - the Stabilizer breed is one of the newest, and is a composite breed meaning its a particular mix 5 of native british and continental breeds. The breed was created in the USA with the idea of creating a cow that was very hardy, needed minimal attention from farmers and calved really easily . We have Rambo for his maternal genetics, meaning that we want his daughters for replacement cows in the future. However being a US breed, the stabilizer also has superb genetics for meat eating quality, an area where the US lead.
Our cows (females, mothers) are also cross bred or hybrids - some were bought as calves from our neighbour an organic dairy farmer and are belgian blue cross fresian, lots are half this and half Hereford, and we have more and more half Stabilizer. Basically we are not really concerned with the breed, or colour, we are very concerned with healthy, happy, functional long lived cows who thrive off species rich pasture. We are not looking for show winning beauty queens that need to be propped up with grain and expensive inputs. We plan for our cows to live until 12 years old, but some get to 14. They have one calf every year and we get the odd set of twins.
The calves that result from our cows and bulls are made up of an equal amount of males and females. All the males end up as meat, however the very best female calves are kept in the herd, replacing older cows. This means we have whole families of females in the herds, great grandmothers, grandmothers, mothers and daughters along with lots of half sisters.
Each cow has its own character and place within the herd. Some are really social, some keep to themselves, some are inquisitive, some always seek the security of the middle of the bunch. Some love a scratch from us, some most definitely don't. When letting them through to the next paddock each day when grazing, the same ones are normally at the front and know exactly whats happening, along with the same characters at the back who saunter along. We aim to do everything possible to let our cattle express their natural behaviours, what ever these might be.
All the calves are kept with their mothers for 9-10 months then weaned. At this point they get moved a short distance from Waterhay Farm to Park Farm where my brother Chris runs a group of 80-120 cattle. We would expect our cattle to be ready for beef at between 20-26 months of age.