In this week’s Suckler Focus, That’s Farming, speaks to Henry Savage jnr of Trueman Limousins. We discuss securing a world record price for a bull, success on the show circuit, ET work and moving from AI to a stockbull, whose first progeny have averaged close to 10,000gns.
Setting a new Limousin world record bull price of 140,000gns back in 2015 is the cumulation of Henry Savage’s and family’s dedication to elite pedigree breeding since 1997.
The pedigree herd in Cullyhanna, Newry, Co Armagh, has excelled since its inception notching up an array of show and sale successes.
Henry snr, a retired teacher, runs the 150-acre enterprise with his sons: Henry (jnr), Benny, Phelim, and Dermot.
The world-renowned herd is the result of the family’s selective breeding policy, ET work and investments in superior genetics.
“Farming has always been in our family. The farm now is a fourth-generation farm and has been handed down through the generations,” Henry Savage jnr told That’s Farming.
“The farm was split into two 50-acre plots when my grandfather died. My father has farmed one plot part-time for most of his life. My father was a teacher but has now retired and farms full-time.”
“I have followed in my father’s and mother’s footsteps and am a teacher. This works well when helping to run the Limousin herd. I have summers off and can help out in the evenings.”
The Trueman herd was established in 1997 with the purchase of a heifer, Spage Miranda, from the Campbell family. Shortly afterwards, they acquired a 10-month-old heifer, Hollybank Oprah, from W.G. Scott.
She went on to breed “exceptional” progeny, including Trueman Euphonium (national champion 2011).
The family has retained 12 daughters of Euphonium within the herd – including Trueman Noreen (overall interbreed champion Balmoral) along with Trueman Idol – one of the foremost bulls recently in the Limousin breed in the U.K.
Hollybank Oprah also bred Trueman Honey, dam of the Carlisle champion, Trueman Mozart, who sold for 15,000gns, respectively.
In 1998, the Savage family purchased Bellview Mystical privately from Brian Walker. Mystical is the dam of Trueman Song, who bred Trueman Foxtrot, the dam of Trueman Lute, their first interbreed champion at Balmoral 2017. Trueman Pixie sold for 17,100 gns in their online sale last summer.
“It is 20 years since Ashmore Nefertiti was purchased from Bobby and Doreen Campbell. Ashmore Nefertiti is the dam to Trueman Acoustics whose sired by Nenuphar.”
“Acoustics has been a terrific servant to the herd. Her progeny have grossed over £100,000. They include Trueman Duet, champion at the Red Ladies 2009, selling for 38,000 gns.”
At Oonagh McLoughlin’s dispersal sale 12 years ago, they fetched Cookstown B1425, a female with strong maternal abilities that went on to produce the 2012 Red Ladies champion, Trueman Grazia.
Grazia is the dam of the aforementioned, 140,000gns world record price bull, Trueman Jagger, which was champion at Carlisle 2015.
ET work and calving
The herd currently comprises 20 breeding cows with superior females forming part of an ET programme. “We would aim for 10-12 embryos born on the farm each year,” he explained.
“We aim to produce bulls for the commercial market that are easy calving and will produce those high-quality calves that are in high demand.”
“Embryo calves are normally born in September, November and January. We like to have calves born throughout the year as it means then we have bulls for all the different sales at various times of the year.”
A share in Telfers Munster
Up until 2018, they operated a 100% AI system, extensively using sires including Ampertaine Elgin, Nenuphar, Ronick Hawk, Mas du Clo, Ampertaine Foreman, Dauphin, Sympa and Wilodge Vantastic.
In February 2018, they took the plunge and bought a half share of Telfers Munster in Carlisle for 20,000 gns, with the Ardlea and Elite herd of Dan Tynan.
“Munster has proved to be an outstanding buy for the herd. His first sons have sold to 14,000 gns and his first daughters to 17,100 gns. We have averaged nearly 10,000gns for the first progeny we have sold from him.”
“He is easy calved, has tremendous figures, and progeny have natural shape, style, and width with lovely heads.”
“Calving is basically all-year-round. Although recently with the stockbull, most calves are born in the springtime from March to May. This is because we have the bull during the summer and the Ardlea herd has him during the winter.”
“We moved away from AI for a simple reason. Cows were losing too much time each year, and our ground is all at the opposite side of the road to our yard/cattle sheds. When we are all working, it is very hard for my father on his own to get cows in to AI during the week,” he added.
Semen is available through Progressive Genetics and Munster Bovine in ROI and N.I and on www.bovinegeneticscentre.co.uk in the U.K.
The family sell most of their bulls privately at home to commercial herds, while they also bring others to the sales ring at Carlisle.
“Carlisle will always be the aim for those best stock. However, the new Brexit rules have made it much more difficult to go over to Carlisle. Hopefully, this can be sorted out in the near future.”
Cow-type and quality over quantity
Until recently, the Savages retained most females as replacements, but since last year, they have sold the majority to maintain their current herd size.
“Our ideal cows are big, long, with plenty of shape and ‘limmy’ characteristics. We like a good head to all our cows with good legs, and they all must have good milk. A cow that cannot rear its own calf is no good to anyone.”
“All our cows need to have good fertility and be able to have a calve inside the year. This is very important. We do not like to see cows lose time unless we have specifically taken them out for flushing.”
“We want to keep the pedigree herd at the numbers they are at now, as my brothers and I all work full-time. When numbers get too big, you cannot put the same time and effort into them as they need, and then things will not be done properly.”
“We feel in the pedigree Limousin job, it’s about quality, not quantity, and that is what we feel is the way to go forward.”
Trueman Limousins held a virtual sale last year and secured between 4,100 gns to 17,100 gns for female and male progeny. This year, they are running a similar sale along with Jim Quail of the Lynderg herd.
The sale, on elite.pedigreesales.com, features 21 pedigree Limousin cattle right from the heart of the two herds.
“We have entered, in our opinion, some of the best heifers we have ever bred, including an outstanding young bull.”
Bidding opens for the sale on Thursday, July 15th at 7.00 pm, and the sale concludes from 1.00 pm on Saturday, July 17th.
“We would like to thank all our customers for their custom and wish all new customers the best of luck with their purchases.”
“The Limousin breed seems to be going from strength to strength due to their easy calving, easy fleshing and great kill-out percentages. They are the carcase breed, and we feel this will continue for years to come.”
“In the future, we would like to keep the herd at a similar size as it is now but to try and improve quality continually. Shows like Balmoral will continue to play a vital role in trying to market our bloodlines as well as social media and local sales.”
“Limousins are the whole family’s real passion, and hopefully, this will continue into the future,” he concluded.