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HomeBeefGoldies: 46 years of breeding world-renowned Limousins
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Goldies: 46 years of breeding world-renowned Limousins

Goldies Limousin Herd – Scotland

In this week’s Suckler Focus segment, Catherina Cunnane, editor of www.thatsfarming.com speaks to the Goldie family from Scotland who run the noted Goldies Limousin herd.

They tell us about establishing the herd from humble beginnings and consigning a batch of pedigree Limousin heifers at Carlisle Market on Saturday, July 8th, 2023, in a sale along with five other breeders – Frogmore (whole herd sale), Grahams, Haltcliffe, Mariascote and Tweeddale.

Farm background

The Goldie family of Bruce, his wife, Linda, and their children, Thomas, aged 14, and Isla, 12, farm in partnership with Bruce’s parents Jim and Kay, at Townfoot Farm, Mouswald, Dumfries in Scotland.

Townfoot is a 300-acre LFA unit that supports the 70-cow pedigree Goldies herd along with flocks of Valais Blacknose, Zwartble and Texel sheep also under the Goldies prefix.

The farm undertakes embryo work on both Limousin cattle and the Valais Blacknose flock and, as such, has recipient cattle and sheep on the farm.

Jim first came across the Limousin breed at Paris show and was very impressed by their conformation, high meat-to-bone yield, with good killing-out percentage when compared to the native cattle in the UK.

This, combined with great maternal and ease of calving traits, meant that Jim could instantly see the breed would prove to be popular in the UK, and so set about establishing his own herd, which he did in 1977.

Breeding programme

The herd aims to produce at “the top end” of the Limousin breed and regularly achieves top prices and top pen averages at premier sales in Carlisle and Stirling.

They told us: “Our breeding policy is a bit different to most – we only keep six heifers each year and do quite a bit of flushing.”

“This policy means that we can sell very good, well-bred heifers that would not generally be offered for sale if more replacements were being kept.”

“It also means a very strict selection process must be achieved before a female enters the herd and that all cows in the herd were at the top end of their year group.”

“These heifers are very closely related to the bulls, which have done well at sales.”

“Although the embryo and flushing side does cost a fair bit, it is easily covered with a good bull or by selling heifers from our much sought-after bloodlines onto other breeders,” they added.

“Get the females right, and the bulls are sure to follow – that is the best piece of advice we have ever received – and that has certainly proved to be right.”

Links with Ireland

The breeders in the sale are keen to export their genetics, and as such, cattle will be eligible for export to Republic and Northern Ireland.

The Goldies can take back home any overseas purchases to be TB tested and moved on when the 40-day export standstill rule timeline is up.

The sale will include females sired by top-breeding bulls and from some of the best female lines in the breed.

There will be quality females to “enhance or establish any herd and to suit all budgets”, they claim.

They commented: “The Limousin is ideally suited to address current market requirements of producing fast-growing, efficient, early maturing quality butchers’ carcasses, whilst still maintaining ease of management, ease of calving and milkiness which means the Limousin is also an ideal suckler cow.”

Goldies Vitality

Without any doubt, they believe that Goldies Vitality is the best animal that they have ever bred.

They describe her as the backbone of the herd as it is now, and her daughters regularly breed top-priced bulls.

Vitality, in their eyes, had tremendous breed character and style combined with length and width.

“We were very lucky that she combined these visual traits with super milk, temperament and calving ease. She was very correct and breedy and crossed very well with numerous bulls.”

Vitality’s male progeny include Comet, Goldfinger and Fantastic, but it is her daughters who took the herd to a new level.

Their progeny include- Juggler, who was retained; Olympia & Owain- Supreme Champion & Reserve at Carlisle in February 2020, selling for 30,000gns each, Positive that made 30,000 in February 2021 and Relish, also at 30,000gns in May 2022. Orinocco, Neymar, Nelson, Novelty, Oxo, Outlook, Pilot, and Porsche, to name a few, have all made their mark since 2019.

Superior animals

When asked what is the best animal they have ever seen, the family replied: “There have been a few we would like to mention”.

Milbrook Ginger Spice, Baileys Ice Princess (both from the ROI), Foxhillfarm Gracie and Wilodge Diamante – all have been incredible show animals, and incidentally, we have bought sons or close relations to them all.”

“A special mention must go to a French cow named Emue, never shown, but what a cow she was, with all the same attributes as her granddaughter Vitality but years before her time (born in 1989).”

“We managed to get some embryos from her, including Goldies Terence and Tiffany (dam of Vitality),” they concluded.

Changes

There have been a lot of changes over the years as the breed and the industry have progressed.

An increase in weight for age, higher killing out percentage, and efficiency have all been achieved, but also far more science and data and expense is involved, they said.

Fotojet 2023 06 16t175626.143 (1)
OSIRUS PROGENY IN (NEW PENS AT CARLISLE) October 1981 – These six sons averaged £4549.

These six bulls were sold in 1981 with no weight records, health scheme, myostatin or DNA, and that would be just impossible now.

These new developments are all necessary to help buyers decide what is going to be beneficial for their herds’ needs, along with the all-important eye for stock.

Herd origin

The Goldies herd was established in the 1970s. The herd’s first stock bull, Osirus, who sired the first prize group at ILC in 1981, sold 6 sons in 1981 to an average of £4549.

He was Royal Show Champion in 1982 and later sold for the then breed record of 9,500gns.

Bruce’s father then imported four stock bulls from France in one shipment in 1982 – Sebastian, Sapin, Soleil, and Sultan.

Sebastien was champion at the Highland Show in 1983 and broke the record selling for 14,000gns.

Sapin was Highland Show Champion in 1984 and sold for 10,000gns. Soleil won Royal Show Male Champion in 1985, and Sultan won many championships at shows in Cumberland.

More recently would be being the first herd to be Champion and Reserve at the main Carlisle Premier sale, where Olympia & Owain took the honours and sold for 30,000gns each in February 2020.

Other milestones

Other highlights include Goldies Victoria, which was exported to Texas in 1985 for £38,000, which was a record for a heifer at that time and record priced black Limousin at 30,000gns for Goldies Black Forever, a bull whose mother was imported from Canada as a frozen embryo after a fact-finding trip.

Jim also bred Goldies Comet, sire of the 125,000gns former world record-priced female.

Jim recalls fondly setting up his first Limousin production sale at Carlisle in 1979, where he insisted that a young David Thomlinson be given his first job of pedigree auctioneering.

The sale was a roaring success, with cows and calves averaging £4555 to a record top of 10,000gns for Bedell Jane and Goldies Olive.

Fast forward 40 years, and another Goldies Olive bred the reserve champion at Carlisle in October 2022 (when crossed with the record-priced Roscrea purchase Carrickmore Maximus).

This followed on from Goldies Relish taking the same accolade in May 2022, most recently six bulls at Carlisle in February 2023, all sold to an average of £10,600.

This included the 15,000 gns Goldies Stamp, who is sired by Goldies Terence – a bull that has proven his world in the ROI and around the world, having been born in 2002.

A further team in May 2023 sold to an average of 11,600, again topping at 15,000gns for Goldies Salvador.

Success for others

The family said: “The most pleasing thing, however, is seeing our cattle going on and breeding very well, and we are very proud of the fact that Goldies’ cattle have gone on to breed many a champion and top-priced bull.”

“Homebred bulls, including Goldies Comet, Fandango, Fantastic, Fortress, Goldfinger and Jackpot, Lord of the Rings and Parliament, have all recently sired champion bulls.”

“We have sold females from the herd breeding very well for purchasers around the UK and Ireland,” they added.

Fotojet 2023 06 16t175638.595 (1)
Goldies Orinocco
Future opportunities/challenges

As a breed, the breeders believe we have to promote more avenues that prove that we have the product which makes the butcher money – high killing out %, very little waste and lots of quality beef for sale per carcass.

As an industry, they are of the view, that we have to encourage the consumer to buy locally and promote our beef as having been produced to high welfare and environmental standards.

Moreover, “we need to drive home the message that we turn less favoured land into top-quality protein whilst maintaining the beauty of the countryside and sequestering carbon”.

Valais Blacknose Sheep

The main flock on the farm is Valais Blacknose sheep which originate from the Swiss Valais region and are known as the world’s cutest sheep.

The breed first arrived in the UK 9 years ago, and this family have had them for seven years.

“They are very inquisitive and friendly, and wherever we go with them, there is a great reception from the townspeople and from farmers, big or small, looking for something a bit different.”

“We have had great demand for them, with embryos sold to New Zealand and the USA, and semen exported to the USA, Canada, New Zealand, France and Norway.”

“Live sheep have been exported recently to the ROI, France, Germany and also regularly to Northern Ireland.

“The kids have some Zwartbles too, which we export around Europe. Also, a Texel flock has now been reduced in numbers to accommodate the Valais flock,” they concluded.

Fotojet 2023 06 16t175650.372 (1)

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