The McTurk herd of Limousins is run by James Milligan-Manby as part of the Manby Farms Limited he manages alongside his brother Richard.
The herd was founded in 1980 with the purchase of French cow Hortense from the Burton herd dispersal, with this Ben Barka daughter flushed successfully to produce foundation females for the herd.
The initial polled animals derived from the use of a Limousin bull in the Lincoln Red Breed Development Scheme. These 50:50 animals were gradually graded up, although Limousin Society rules ensured it was a painstakingly slow process with bulls needing to be 93.75% pure (Grade D) or simply fourth generation before they could be used on females.
In other words a 50:50 chance of getting a female calf, at the same time a 50:50 chance of being polled. Assume you are lucky and get a polled heifer calf, wait two or three years for her to calve and repeat the exercise in statistical probability.
The herd was also part of a syndicate which imported the heterozygous polled bull GWH William from Canada to help speed up the polling process. Now, most of the herd’s females are polled with about 20% being homozygous.
With polling becoming the focus of the breeding programme, polled bulls have been purchased on the rare occasions they have been available. These include Harlesford John, Bradwell Ombre, Bradwell Premier and Lowabbey Upton of old and more recent exciting additions, which can be found on the stock sires page.
With so few polled bulls available we attempted to breed our own with the help of AI sires, using generally imported semen.
James’ belief has always been that polling would be a crucial factor in the future of cattle breeding and the intention has always been to breed cattle suited to the modern commercial producer which reduce the need for the handling and stress in young cattle associated with disbudding or dehorning.
Globally this happened years ago, but in the UK there has been a persistent prejudice and ingrained preconception on the merits of polled cattle. This battle continues, but the barriers are being slowly broken down. French breeders are also taking up the challenge.
The herd grazes permanent parkland pasture on the largely arable farm and is managed on a commercial basis with the aim to calve heifers as close to two as possible.
The herd is weight recorded, Johnes accredited, monitored and vaccinated for BVD and vaccinated against Leptospirosis as well as being in a four yearly TB testing parish.