Long future predicted for new look Shorthorns

The world Shorthorn conference being held in Scotland will result in business being done with fellow breed enthusiasts in other parts of the world.

James Playfair Hannay of Morebattle, Kelso, is the world president of the Shorthorn Society and, speaking after a visit of 120 delegates to one of the top pedigree herds in this country, he predicted economic benefits would emerge from the visit.

"This week will give us the opportunity to demonstrate we have moved away from the unfashionable type of Shorthorn to one which is tremendously suited to the demands of today's market," he said. "I believe the Beef Shorthorn is poised to re-enter the international marketplace as the modern functional suckler cow."

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Playfair Hannay did not think the breed would reach the popularity it had more than a century ago when the British-bred Beef Shorthorn was the "great improver" and provided the backbone for world suckler beef production.

"Between 1882 and 1906, over 16,000 head was exported to 24 different countries," said Playfair Hannay.

"Sales continued steadily until the invasion of the Continentals, when breed popularity in the UK and subsequent trade dwindled and the breed was introduced to the rare breeds list."

There has now been a significant revival in the breed's fortunes. In the past 20 years, most of the export doors have been closed through either foot-and-mouth or BSE but in that time the breed has been improved by imported genetics.

Playfair Hannay has already had an order for both semen and embryos from a farmer in Brazil and he predicted more orders would come.

The worldwide Breedplan recording system has seen the 400 day weight increased by 10 per cent and eye muscle area by 27 per cent in the past five years.

The Shorthorn breed also saw a new record price this week with a private sale of a fifteen month old bull from Donald Biggar, Chapelton, Castle Douglas going to Southampton-based breeders LEP farms for 16,000.

British-bred Beef Shorthorns are enjoying a resurgence in demand on the world markets