Background and Beliefs
It is over 40 years since we imported the first females from Canada with the ambition to and the foresight that, to survive in the business as cattle breeders we would have to breed a type of animal that would come within striking distance of the continental type cattle. An animal suitable as a terminal sire was called for. It would be big, generation after generation (not just for one or two generations) with great length, cleanness and good wide muscled tops. Our aim was to be innovative and quality cattle breeders. A line breeding programme of pedigree Angus cattle is pursued, as only line breeding provides consistent ongoing prepotency – an outcross animal (hybrid vigor) makes for an outstanding animal in the present time but makes little contribution after the second generation.
The result is a wonderful trade in bulls with one customer buying 25 bulls, another has had fourteen bulls (and never been to Nightingale). Many more customers have had 2, 3 ,4, 5 & 6 bulls. The predominant reason why so many customers are happy with our bulls is that they are equal to or outperform other breeds. As cattle breeders we sell 20 to 30 bulls a year, mostly at 12-15 months into suckler, dairy and pedigree herds.
Natural Development – Our herd of pedigree Angus cattle has been bred from 23 different female bloodlines. Whether buying bulls or females in Canada, we conducted extensive research into their pedigrees and available statistical information to ensure that our purchases are not reliant or influenced by price or prizes. Herd management for our pedigree Angus cattle at Nightingale is non labour intensive and as simplistic as possible. The cattle need to develop naturally and the belief is that cattle must be good and good cattle must be functional. All our efforts are directed at breeding an efficient and profitable animal for the farmer and to develop a carcass that will produce the finest quality eating meat for the consumer. To this end we concentrate on depth of muscle on a large frame and structured soundness while maintaining fertility and calving ease. We aim at a type that has length, cleanness through the lower part of the body producing a higher ratio of red meat to waste. The females are feminine, upheaded beefy, structurally correct and with good udders. For 40 years Nightingale females calved at two years old and are fed only grass and silage. After 45 years our aim has only grown in that more marbling (for taste) and less fat in a carcass are becoming more desirable traits.
Ultimately – Form Follows Function – The pedigree Angus cattle herd is now closed except for a particular female or bull that may be necessary. Our main aim and direction is to line breed to produce a pure animal that is dependable and predictable which will be easier to merchandise with evaluated facts and not anticipation. Today, much emphasis is placed on official records and we are proud of our achievements – without abandoning our beliefs.
GOOD FIGURES DO NOT ALWAYS MAKE A GOOD ANIMAL –
BUT A GOOD ANIMAL WITH GOOD FIGURES MAKES A TERRIFIC ANIMAL
In addition to the above, along with line breeding it is also vital to recognise and select bulls that will fuse, add to and strengthen the herd to produce progeny that consistently hit targets.
Performance at least cost is the future
We frequently wean heifers at average 400+kg and some even 500+kgs
This is almost killing weight, straight off their mothers.
Good news for the commercial world which has always felt let down by the heifers.
We like to think that with our extensive and accurate recording for 40 years, including actual (not estimated) birth weights along with every cows gestation, our bulls performance in other herds increases their EBV’s rather than reducing them, something that happens quite often in the well known and not so well know UK herds.
The Nightingale Angus herd is quite UNIQUE.
NO SHOWING & NO BULLS at SALES.
Show animals do not represent or reflect the type of animal we strive to breed and would be a distraction to our breeding policy. Fortunately for us, participating in bull sales has not been necessary, as we have built up a strong customer base supplying bulls that suit the current and future requirements of the pedigree and commercial breeders.
They receive no creep feed at grass. “Carcase” scanning for breedplan figures are done between 300-350days, thereafter a maintenance to grow diet only is fed. This regime would not prepare them for sales to the standard of fitness that is apparently required today, and would dramatically increase our costs. And furthermore allow the possibility that physicality and fertility may be compromised for a time.