Inkstack Farm is a 300 acre farm that has been in the Tait family since its formation in 1843. It is a mix of south west facing arable ground and links plus some areas of rough grazing and disused flagstone quarries. Historically it was a mixed farm, with sheep, cattle and some oats/barley for winter feed and bedding. Angus bulls have been used since the 1960s, with the herd closing in 1990, breeding from retained Angus cross heifers. In recent years the system has been simplified, moving to all grass, with the sheep making way for Angus cattle. The commercial cattle are generally sold at the end of the second summer either finished or as breeding heifers.
A calm day looking back over the links at Inkstack
The Inkstack herd was established in 1996 with two purchases from Perth, Petura 12th of Windsole and Evavanish of Broxmouth In total 6 heifers were purchased between 1996 and 1999 and these have been used as the foundation of our breeding stock, some with more success than others! (The herd was "reclosed" after these purchases) Petura, Evanish and Mushroom Florence (left with her heifer calf) have proved to be good purchases, quickly repaying the initial investment through bull sales and by leaving good breeding stock.
As Petura was breeding well and was a very good milker, but had bred no heifers, we decided to flush her to Rawburn Transformer . The flush resulted in 4 daughters being retained and 5 bulls, either retained or sold as stock bulls, 3 into pedigree herds. These females, plus one natural daughter from Petura sired by Wedderlie Netmark have stamped their mark on the herd.
The breeding programme focussed on calving ease, milk and shape. We calve the cows outdoors in the very North of Scotland in January through April. The cows are outwintered about 1 mile from the farm steading so it is vital that cows calve themselves and that calves get up and sook after calving. We calve our heifers at 2 years old, in the firm belief that commercial cattle should be able to calve down as 2 year olds to maintain profitability. Therefore the pedigrees must be able to do the same. They also need to be able to milk well to rear a good calf and maintain body condition to get back in calf within 3 months. It does not seem to be a problem for the Angus heifers.
(Left - a Flhame calved overnight out on links in Febuary - mother and daughter fine)
This focus on milk and calving has shown through in the Self Replacing Index values since we started recording. We have three cows by Royal Added Value and would have liked more. They are not large but have good, tight udders, small teets and leave exceptionally shaped calves. Other bulls that have left good cows: RawburnTransformer, Wedderlie Netmark, Ranui Impact .
Homebred bulls have been kept by TLA Northern Samurai, Royal Added Value, Rawburn Transformer and Ranui W Impact. Our previous stock bull, Inkstack Fusilier was an interesting blend of Impact, Transformer and Added Value, with good figures across the board, kept to put size in the females while retaining the milking ability, calving ease and shape we’ve been focussing on. Unfortunatey he had to be culled due to injury and ws replaced with our current stock bull Inkstack Premier K387
Most of the bulls have been locally off the farm, either in Caithness or into Orkney, but others going further afield, as far as the borders. A few have been taken down to