Summerhill’s Angus Cattle
(Photos : Leigh Willson)
ROYAL AGRICULTURAL SHOW
The one benefit in running a mixed farming operation, is that when the horses don’t bring home the bacon, you can always fall back on the cattle. Twenty-five years ago, Summerhill’s general manager at the time, John Slade (now making a “ripping” success of running Maine Chance Farm for Dr. Andreas Jacobs and his family,) suggested we acquire some cattle to”sweeten” our pastures. Anyone who’s been to a game reserve, will know there is a symbiosis between zebra and wildebeest, and they’re generally grazing together. The secret lies in their mutual reliance on one another in the combat of their respective parasites, and it’s no different in the domestic agricultural world.
John Slade is a perfectionist, and he was insistent that if we were going to do it, we should do it properly. There was little point in breeding anything less than the only beef “Woolies” would have on their shelves. The best herd of Angus cattle in our region belonged to Greenfields Farm, where the late Humphrey James had meticulously welded together the best strains of the best stock of the local breeders for more than three decades. So we were willing to pay “overs” to his successor, Mervyn Thompson, to acquire his genetics. These heifers were the foundation of the Summerhill herd, and in the ensuing time, they’ve earned some thirteen “champion” prizes at local shows, to the point that the revered Robert Armstrong Trophy for the “Best Grass-fed Animal” on show, is now a permanent fixture at Summerhill.
And to show that the herd remains in good shape under the stewardship of Haydn Bam and Bongaan Shangase, last week at the “Royal”, they brought home the “bacon” or should we say the “beef”, once again, with a first and a fourth prize in their category. We’ve always considered Norman Bauer and Angus Williamson among the best judges in the business; now we have no doubt!