Bred from more than 20 different female lines and almost exclusively founded from Canadian genetics the Nightingale herd runs between 55 and 65 cows, making use of up to four stock bulls and judicious AI use to try and stay ahead of the curve in terms of breeding.
The Robertson family, Willie and his late wife, Rita, imported females from Canada more than 40 years ago in order to develop a herd of Aberdeen-Angus capable of competing with Continental breeds while maintaining the best of the breed’s characteristics, including easy fleshing and an ability to thrive off forage.
To this end cows are only fed grass and silage and all calve in to the herd at two years old. The aim is to breed females with feminity, strong beefing characteristics coupled with structural correctness and good udders. The mindset is to breed animals with length and cleanness to maximise killing out percentages at the same time as maximising fertility and calving ease.
The herd is strongly reliant on line breeding to maximise dependability and predictability, with the Willie and Angela believing that only line breeding can provide consistent ongoing pre-potency whereas an outcross animal may make for an outstanding individual in the present time, but makes little contribution after the second generation.
Selling 25-30 bulls a year the herd sells to both pedigree and commercial customers with both dairy and suckler herd owners featuring among the regular, repeat buyers and many buyers now in to double figures with the number of bulls they’ve sourced from Nightingale.
Buying in animals from Canada has seen more 20 bulls imported between 1981 and 2004, with extensive research undertaken in to pedigrees and performance figures to ensure the purchases aren’t based on or influenced by prices or prizes.
On the pedigree front the herd has seen strong demand for Nightingale bloodlines, with breeding from the herd featuring in many Sirling bull sales trade leaders and prize winners, including the October 2016 champion and top price, the 11,000gns Drumhill Lord Hatfield R532, being an ET bred son of Nightingale Proud Jake G405, while in February 2016 five of the six champions from the pre-sale show carried Nightingale bloodlines, with bulls with Nightingale genetics going on to average £6004 in the sale ring.
Having not shown or sold at public auction for a number of years the herd has cemented itself with a high health status, with Elite Status achieved several years ago for BVD, IBTR, Lepto and Johne’s.
Throughout the herd’s history the Robertson family have always aimed to innovate and produce quality cattle, with the aim to produce dependable and predictable cattle with evaluated facts and not anticipation.