Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Well-Weathered Tradition

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Well-Weathered Tradition

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jennifer Mackenzie

Long, hard winters have led the Wallace family to continue to run their Northumberland hill farm along traditional lines, as they have done since 1962.

And Blue Grey heifers ( the hardy cross of the Whitebred Shorthorn bull and the Galloway cow ( are a bonus for Martin and Marina Wallace and their sons Trevor and Kevin.

Farney Shield lies high in the hills south of the village of Ninebanks near Allendale. The farmhouse itself stands at around 1,200ft above sea level.

The family farms a total of 710 acres of mainly rough grazing and meadow ground, including 120 acres of better ground at Hexham.

Farney Shield carries a herd of 70 Galloway cows, with up to seven strong bulling heifers being bought each autumn at Carlisle for herd replacements. There are also grazing rights on Allendale Common.

Integral to the traditional system for the last three decades is the Whitebred Shorthorn to produce Blue Grey heifers, which are in increasing demand as hardy suckler cows and bullocks, now more and more sought after by butchers who specialise in traditional breeds.

"The cattle we run are best suited for the hills and a harsh environment. Some of the cows are well into their teens and we have no trouble calving them to the Whitebred," said Martin Wallace.

"The weather forecasts govern our farming. Continental cattle couldn't survive on our farm. Our cows are outside for two months longer in the winter than other breeds.

"When we buy in Galloway replacements the heifers have to be good on their legs to cope with the heavy land and we look for good milking ability," he said.

Recent replacements have come from the Waughs of Kilnstown, Forster of Smithsteads and Graham Noble, Demesne.

Female lines in the small herd of Whitebred Shorthorns go back to the original cows. Bulls are tried at home before any surplus are sold privately ( last year one sold to the Orkneys and another went to Buckinghamshire.

The easy-care cattle were all calved outside until the Wallaces joined the North Pennines Environmentally Sensitive Area scheme 13 years ago. …

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