"Emgee" - Pumsaint, Wales
"Emgee" Herd - Maggy and Graham George, Pumsaint, Wales
We were at the RBST show and sale held at Stoneleigh looking for sheep back in the 1990s when we first saw a Shetland cow, with Evelyn Leask in attendance. Although we were in no position at the time to keep cattle we were very taken with them and Evelyn soon had us convinced that Shetland cows were to be for us as soon as possible!
It wasn’t until we moved to Brynbanalog though, our 17 acre smallholding near Pumsaint, Carmarthenshire in West Wales that we were finally able to take the plunge and get our first cows. These were bought as present to ourselves and actually arrived here on 3rd November 2013 - our 34th wedding anniversary! These starters of the Emgee herd were Wharncliffe Gudrun and her two month old calf Wharncliffe.Jaci along with 6 month old Wharncliffe Jenna; all from Albin Smith.
For us, as beginners with cattle, Shetlands have proved themselves ideal. They all have their own personalities but we have found that all have been easy to deal with and do themselves and their calves very well on forage alone on our unimproved (and somewhat wet) land. We do house them in winter though to protect the land which is clay, with the accumulated muck being spread back onto the land once rotted down. The winter feed is our own hay or silage depending on the weather at harvest time. We also calve indoors and aim for just before turn out which is when our cattle have their annual health check too.
As already mentioned our land is clay and we have a mix of gently sloping pasture land through to steep land with scrub, taking in very wet land down by a stream and near the springs that supply all our water here. The wet land looks so very innocuous but it will suck your wellies off down there - the cows love it though! We have a Glastir (environmental) contract with the Welsh Government and our Shetland cattle are an integral part of that contract helping to maintain the diversity of the vegetation.
Our small herd of three has now grown to 4 cows, 2 heifers and our 2 latest arrivals; bull calf Emgee Percival and heifer calf Emgee Pickle. Between them our cattle have seven different sires being Gerraquoy Goran, Blazefield Rufus, Wharncliffe Ewan, Rosedean Valiant, Collafirth Viking, Ocraquoy Haldor and our own Emgee Nigel. This variety wasn’t really intentional but we do always look for a good temperament and enjoy having a mix of colours in there. The dams are representing the St Trinians, Wharncliffe, St Clair, Trondra and Balearn herds so quite a mix there too!
We have just brought Hollington Lancelot home (bred by Steph Ede) and so are looking forward to next year’s calves; as well as being a good looking young bull he has an easy going temperament which hopefully he will pass on. To us a good temperament is of paramount importance in any breeding animals.
We would all like to keep all our cattle I’m sure, but they are bred for a purpose and we are very lucky to have a small local abattoir only half an hour away, which also cuts and vac packs our beef for us. We sell our beef in boxes locally, through word of mouth, and we find that all who try Shetland beef are very complementary about it.
We just count ourselves as very lucky to have met Evelyn all those years ago, who made us determined to keep these wonderful, thrifty, attractive, versatile, good natured cattle – so thank you very much Evelyn!