The Viking Herd - The Story So Far:

A NEWCOMERS VIEW OF THE WHITE WORLD BACKGROUND We farm 500 acres at the hillier northern end of the Lincolnshire Wolds Area Of Outstanding natural beauty (ANOB). 200 acres are down to cereals the remainder being too steep and rough to cultivate. My parents started the beef herd in the 70s with black and white Hereford/Friesian crossed heifers, the herd expanded to about 65 cows of many varieties running with a Charolais bull.

Why Now, Why White?

Having not bought in any replacements since the BSE crisis broke the herd was getting quite aged and interbred; we needed replacement (young) females and a bull. In our winter calving season of 02/03 we had many losses at calving and of young calves. We have found that if a Charolais calf is feeling of colour it will sleep to the point of starvation unless attended to, we needed calves with vigour, and also having had some Limousin cows in our time we also wanted sanity! Our last remaining farm worker retired in 2001 leaving my wife and I to run the farm, and my wife's livery business. We therefore were looking for low maintenance, easy calving, polled and quiet tempered as we are on the Viking way a well used long distance footpath. Being on this footpath and in an AONB with a thriving livery yard (Nettleton Equitation) we are in the process of setting up 2 self-catering cottages so from a promotional point of view we wanted a breed with an AHH factor. My father was an adamant Charolais fan but following his death I felt freedom to consider alternatives to the commercial continental crosses. He was also responsible for alerting me to the breed having taken me as a small boy to a sale were there was one solitary White, despite my appeals we came home without her!

Our First 18 Months

Having decided that if we didn't make the change soon (we are both in our 40's) we may never do it, so, we attended the 03 Royal show and headed for the cattle lines. After looking at the lovely examples on show and having our numerous questions answered by the friendly couple manning the stand, we were told of the forthcoming Melton Mowbray sale and duly attended. What a fabulous event! We came home with 4 strong Leverington cows and the prettiest Albany heifer you could imagine (can you tell I've got the White bug). Having bought our stock I was quickly apprehended by Angela and inducted into "the cattle equivalent of the freemasons" After they arrived in Nettleton word spread like wildfire "what lovely cattle" "what breed" were the most oft repeated comments, we were the talk of the village for several weeks. Having calved 2 of the Leveringtons we were convinced of their merits and decided we needed more. After studying the winter newsletter a trip to the West Country was organised. Our apologies to our hosts visiting 3 farms and travelling back to Lincolnshire in one day was a bit ambitious, we would have liked more time to "talk White" But we filled our shopping basket with 3 cows, 8heifers and the lovely Lagan Icarus. The spring of 04 saw us with 6 white calves, one of which we hope will prove to be a fine bull. I attended the second Melton sale with high hopes, but was horrified to see how the prices had rocketed; never the less I was determined to buy two Tollesbury Heifers. Again a thoroughly enjoyable day with new acquaintances made and others refreshed. We now have a grand total of 26 Whites of various ages and are just starting to calve Icarus progeny, with the crossbred calves well muscled and growing well and the pedigree fine and well marked

Highlights, Lowlights & Ambitions

Our first born, Viking Alpha, They really are the cutest calves! Not having the finance to buy more cattle. We are in the middle of major modernisation, new cattle buildings, stables, holiday cottages and farmhouse renovation, which is swallowing large wads of money and time curtailing my cattle spending, and preventing us attending more society events. To buy/ breed more Whites and find the time to enter the show circuit.

Impressions

The breed has produced all the qualities we were looking for and the individual cattle are a pleasure to own. Are they all nasally challenged? Ours spend lots of time itching their noses on any protrusion available and sneezing, the debris they leave behind is not pleasant! . Having experienced the cutthroat world of horse showing the friendly atmosphere among the showing competitors is a refreshing change (or is there a dark side to the White World?) Angela has been very helpful and appears to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of people, personalities and bloodlines The society has made us very welcome and the level of knowledge and affection we all share for our animals is a pleasure to experience.