The Plumtree Albions.
by Matt Britton
The Plumtree herd, named after a parcel of woodland on the farm, was established in late 2020 with the purchase of Betchton Hector Nora, an in-calf heifer; frustratingly her first calf was a male by Betchton Tinote.
Next a foundation cow, Speckles Dinet 2, and a male calf at foot by Speckles
With the Albion being so rare I found it quite difficult to get hold of breeding females of any age. Naively I thought I could start with a group of heifers and a bull to get my new herd off to a flying start however the best I could do to start with was grab the odd cow or
heifer where I could. The Plumtree herd was getting off to a slow start!
Both cows were honest animals, they had both calved themselves, great mothers, and fantastic udders that any dairyman would be happy to run through a parlour but perhaps not the type or colour I had envisioned for the start of an Albion herd.
The next hurdle was getting them back in-calf. No matter the size of your herd I am always an advocate for using bulls and it is wise to find the right one. The old saying is “A bull is half your herd”. A herdsperson always has an ideal animal in mind, that thinking can apply to any breed. Selecting the right bull now will show instantly in the next generation and the next and so on. A.I has its advantages in some situations but with most my time taken up managing someone else’s farm, my Albions and Beef Shorthorns must get on with things, and they do, which is a testament to both breeds. The most important objective to me is to get a calf on the ground every year, it is a costly business having empty cows on the farm not earning their keep, doubly for a rare breed such as the Albion where it is important to get as many calves born each year as possible to grow the national herd.
Scoutbeck Major came up for sale, to me a very correct bull, shape (leaning towards
dairy type), colour and great temperament.
In 2022 my luck started to change, I purchased four Scoutbeck heifers, Nancy, Niamh, Nina & Nicole, now I am up to a grand total of six breeding females, Major has a little more work to do! All four black in colour, probably less favourable to most, however I like the variation the breed throws.
2023 got a little more exciting, four heifer calves, finally the Plumtree prefix can be put to use!
No issues with calving, great mothers, plenty of milk and all cows with udders and teat settings ideal for a parlour.
Ultimately that would be a dream for me to be able to establish a milking herd. For now, Plumtree Albions will have to be a suckler herd although it is tempting to milk for the first 8-12 weeks post calving to bucket rear some extra calves. It would be a shame to waste that extra milk they can produce which is more than what one calf can handle. Something to think about for Spring 2024 perhaps.