Well where has the year gone? 2017 is knocking on our door and I didn?t feel 2016 pass!!
It?s been another crazy year for us at HW with the opening of our new, dedicated store, Wagyu House. We were blessed with some amazing support for the opening, which was incredible. Since we opened our doors in August it?s been truly incredible. Of course I?m still based at the farm but I have my Saturday job at Wagyu House and I pop in most days to check on what?s going on and I enjoy meeting and talking Wagyu to all our customers.
With another crazy year nearly behind us, Mohsin and I are looking forward to a well-earned break in January. Mohsin is working on some exciting projects for the New Year so we?ll need some R&R before the excitement begins. Of course, we?ll keep you posted on social media.
We had another great few days at The Royal Highland Show with our Wagyu stand in June. After selling out in two days last year we increased our stock this year?and sold out in three days! It seems our love for Wagyu is spreading. So we will plan better for the Show next year. My nephew Maison came to help for the four days at the Highland and has stayed to work alongside us at HW, which of course has pleased me! It?s great to have him with us and since Wagyu House opened he has grown in confidence and is now looking after all of our private customers.
It?s been an amazing year with many new restaurants and some incredible chefs placing our beef on their menus. We?ve had so much support from many of our customers since the start of our journey that we cannot thank them enough. You know who you are and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for always being there for us. Without you, we wouldn?t be here.
A big thank you also goes to our friend and top-chef customer Adam Handling who used our Wagyu beef on Masterchef this year, which gave us a massive boost. We?re hoping to add a clip to the website soon.
In more good news, I have found a ?mini me? at last. Michelle came on board a few months ago, which has been a massive help for us all. She has been in the beef industry for many years, her enthusiasm is infectious and I believe our customers are going to enjoy her positive and fun-loving character as much as we do. Along with my husband and I, Craig runs around the country shouting about HW. Craig is a long-term friend and his passion for Wagyu is incredible. We tease him most days but he would think something was wrong if we didn?t. I must also mention everyone in the office as well as Nigel who tries to keep everyone in check.
On the cattle side things life is always busy. Every day brings us a challenge and we are all constantly learning that ?every day?s a school day?. I?m told where there?s livestock there?s ?dead stock? and this is something I haven?t been able to grasp well?maybe it?s because I am still so new to the world of cattle? That being said we have had many beautiful new additions to the HW herds. Our Wagyu herd is growing daily and the Wagyu breed itself is growing in popularity worldwide. We have many people calling because they want to learn more about the breed in general, which is a positive sign. For us they are wonderful, but for many they don?t really see them visually as ?beef cattle?. However, once they have seen our steers and of course the end product, this gives them encouragement.
We cross our Wagyu with our other breeds of cattle to see what the Wagyu are doing to our traditional carcasses and each one so far has blown us away. I?m sure many have heard our weird and wonderful names for the different Wagyu crosses. Wangus, Waghorn, Waglander are the three so far and we have another new Wagyu cross coming soon but I?m still working on the name for that!
Our HW Angus herd has gone from strength to strength with William and Karen at the helm. In the past year we have exported live cattle and embryos to 12 different countries from both our Red and Black Angus. With many bulls being sold within the UK, we would like to thank our new and returning customers for all the support you have given us. Next year is looking very exciting, with the World Angus Forum coming to visit. We also have a nice group of bulls for the famous Stirling Bull Sales in February.
HW Shorthorns have stepped up a mark and, since George?s main focus is now on the Shorthorns, they?re coming into their own. Our homebred bull and national champion Freud is now in stud, with many orders for his semen coming in before he even arrived! Hazard was sold to Genus and has also been popular across the globe. So, things are looking up on the Shorthorn front and I look forward to sharing more new about them soon.
We also have a new member on the Wagyu team. Lorna has returned from many years in NZ to join the Wagyu team and we?re very happy to have her on board. She joins Colin, Maureen, Grant and Radik who all look after the Wagyu side of things, making five Wagyu musketeers! And I better not forget a very important member of the Wagyu team - Diaz is HW security the most incredible Rottie I?ve ever met. Along with HW Yoda (our French Bulldog) they are Wagyu quality control 😉 HW Yoda is in full force and brings us such joy at home and on the farm. He is totally in love with the cattle, but sometimes gets a little freaked out when he appears from a bale of hay and finds large Wagyu tongues waiting to kiss him! I?m not sure what he thinks these large beasts are and I?m sure they wonder who or what he is, but they all seem to find each other totally spellbinding.
Finally, I know I?ve said this before, but I cannot say it enough: my husband and I are here not only because of our determination, but also because of the hard work of the whole team. Without everyone?s hard work and passion we wouldn?t be here today. As in life, there are good and bad days, but together we can do many great things. So, to our HW family we would like to thank you for everything you have done. We look forward to walking into the future with you, whatever it may hold.
Though the weather outside has been frightful, at Highland Wagyu, the last three months have been delightful with so much going on and lots of tasty projects in progress for 2015.
It?s been a whirlwind of a year and it was topped by completely selling out of all our beef early in December for the festive period to chefs, hotels and private customers, which was incredible and we now have a lengthy waiting list for the new year!
Our beef stays in the UK with consumers and chefs wanting 'British' beef and maybe this is why we are being contacted from around the globe, including Hong Kong, the Maldives and Dubai.
We?re delighted to now supply to Martin and Paul of traditional high class butchers Hook & Cleaver who are based in London (pictured below) and Northfield Farm who sell at the trendy Borough market in London as well as more amazing chefs and restaurants to add to some of the UK?s finest.
There?s been particular interest in our F1 Wagyu crossed with pedigree Aberdeen Angus ? or as we fondly call it, ?Wangus?, and we love it when customers let us know they?re happy with their deliveries on Facebook and Twitter. Feedback is so important!
In fact, our Wangus sausages caused quite a stir, selling to a place in Aberdeen who offered them to the builders working on a big project across the road. He sold out by 9.30am the first morning and is set to try the Wangus burgers for phase 2!!
With the beef all sold 23 days before Christmas, I was able to have some much-needed time to do my favourite and all-important genetics planning for next year.
This month we?ve just completed another embryo programme, flushing Wagyu, Shorthorn and Angus and implanting 60+ embryos. Here?s Highland Wagyu Apache in the crush. She?s used to it now!
From the successful flush, HW Angus now have embryos available for sale from Netherton Fleur L628 by our exciting new stock bull Rawburn Boss M554 (below), so see the HW Angus Facebook page if you?re interested.
We recently sampled our delicious FullBlood Wagyu Salt Beef (which isn?t for sale yet but watch this space) with the ?Roux clan? and Andrew Fairlie who were visiting the estate and, let?s just say, there weren?t many slices left! Mmmm.
We?ve had numerous visits from people interested not only in our beef but also our cattle and everything we're doing here at HW. We recently welcomed an executive chef of a luxury 5* hotel in central London for a weekend on the farm. Being a customer of ours, we were delighted to show him the whole operation and spend quality time with him and his wife. We find it important that our customers get the time to see the cattle and what we're about.
On the pedigree side, October saw the inaugural presentation of the Mohmar Trophy at the Stirling Bull Sales, awarded to James Porter of Uppermill ? congratulations!
Our Shorthorn Mohmar Heathermaid Irania, by prizewinning stock bull Quoiggs Extra Special and dam Quoiggs Irania, was crowned Supreme Shorthorn Champion at the Agri Expo in Carlisle.
While in November Netherton Evita N734 won the Female Overall Yearling Champion at the AA Winter National.
In more Angus news, we?ve made another big step towards breeding the ultimate in AA, with Phase 1 of a new Angus station at Tarneybackle moving forward.
Other exciting news in the past three months includes the new addition to the HW Angus herd of Rawburn Ella, a Double OSeven daughter in calf to Rawburn Boss and the launch of the Wagyu Beef Association down south, which saw a great turnout and good press coverage. This is the first new breed society to be launched in 25 years and we?re happy to be part of it.
It?s a reflective time of year and I my highlight has been that I have survived another year! Well it's true - we walked in here knowing nothing about farming or cattle. We wanted to be hobby farmers to breed beef for our own table because we were fed up with searching for great quality beef! Remember we were consumers so maybe this is why we only want to produce the best.
There's a saying that I have changed to suit me... When the going gets tough... The tough keep going!
The feedback that we get from everyone about our beef has to be a highlight! After all the hard work that goes into it 'from conception to, err, consumption? 🙂 ?So when the finest chefs tell us that our beef is incredible, well those few words make it all worth it. That's what it's about! We feel proud.
I have to say the cattle are the stars; such amazing animals to be around they leave me breathless some days with their individual personalities. I am totally smitten!
And of course the team at HW, without ALL of them this wouldn't work. It really is a 'team' effort! And of course my wonderful husband that puts up with me working all hours, my rants when it's been a difficult day and for cooking me the most fabulous meals every weekend.
And not forgetting my customers some who have supported us from day one! I want to thank you all for the support you have given us and for producing the most amazing plates of food using our beef. Thank you for believing in our cattle and us.
We?re really looking forward to a well-deserved break over the festive period, spending time with family and friends and eating good food while we recharge our batteries for many more exciting things happening in 2015.
So, from our family to yours, have a very happy Christmas and a wonderful new year.
The Uppermill Beef Shorthorn herd has been awarded the inaugural Mohmar Trophy for scoring the highest number of points across four major shows during the 2014 season.
Uppermill?s owner, James Porter, of Gill Hall Estate, Dromore, County Down was presented with the award at the Stirling Bull Sales?on Monday 20 October by Mohsin Altajir of Highland Wagyu who donated the trophy.
Mr Porter?received a bronze Beef Shorthorn head specially commissioned by Scottish sculptor, Lucy Poett, together with ?1,000 prize money.
"As Beef Shorthorn breeders ourselves, we wanted to help encourage more breeders, in particular some of the newest members, to show their cattle and recognise?the most successful herd across four shows ? the Royal Highland, Royal Ulster, Royal Welsh and Great Yorkshire,? Mr Altajir explained.
"We hope the perpetual Mohmar Trophy, which is based on our Shorthorn bull Quoiggs Extra Special, will become a much sought-after award in the show season for Shorthorn breeders."
Beef Shorthorn Society?s Frank Milnes commented: ?Our congratulations go to Uppermill which turned out two fantastic teams of Beef Shorthorns at the Royal Ulster and Royal Highland Shows and amassed a very impressive lead score of points.?
He added: ?We are delighted be able to introduce a brand new and unique trophy to our awards line up and our grateful thanks go to Highland Wagyu for generously supporting Beef Shorthorn at a time when the breed?s popularity has reached a record high - calf registrations are up 41% since 2011. Breeders are delivering a functional suckler cow suited to modern commercial requirements whilst Morrisons Traditional Beef scheme has introduced a strong demand for Beef Shorthorn steers, previously a by-product.?
Pic caption:?James Porter receives the new Mohmar award from Mohsin Altajir with from left, Bill Porter, Martine Chapman, John McCulloch and Zara McComb
Note for editors
The Mohmar Trophy judging was based on a point system. The first place in each class was awarded 50 points, second 40 points, third 30 points, fourth 20 points and fifth 10 points. The scoring included group classes but excludes the championships. The exhibitor amassing the greatest total of points from these four qualifier shows was declared the winner.
We were thrilled to see our Shorthorn bull Quoiggs Freud do so well at?England's premier agricultural event - the Great Yorkshire Show - held in Harrogate, North Yorkshire from Tuesday 8th to Thursday 10th July 2014.
He was first in his class, winning The Northern Beef Shorthorn Club Trophy for the best two-year-old Beef Shorthorn bull before going on to the male championship and becoming reserve male champion.
Here's a few images from the 156th event, which saw more than 131,000 people enjoy three days of sunshine and blue skies - we thought we were in Scotland!
The Rt. Hon. Gerald Turton with Quoiggs Freud and George McCulloch - and the Northern Beef Shorthorn Club Trophy.
Quoiggs Freud with his rosettes after the parade on Wednesday:
The past three months have been all about new life, cute calves and quality breeding.
We?ve welcomed 200 calves from our Angus, Shorthorn, Highland and Wagyu breeds, collected semen from four bulls and had a very successful flush.
And we?ve had great interest from South America in particular for our Wagyu semen and requests for semen from our champion Beef Shorthorn bull Quoiggs Extra Special while Quoiggs Freud has generated his own little flurry of enquiries with his success on the show circuit (see below).
Recent press interest in the Wagyu breed has brought Highland Wagyu to the attention of UK chefs who are surprised and delighted it?s being bred ?on their doorstep? especially with the demand from customers to source quality meat closer to home.
We?ve also been contacted by a number of private customers looking at our Wagyu beef for a treat or a special occasion. In fact, we now have a waiting list!
April and May saw the majority of our new arrivals, including 50 calves in 10 days ? that was a busy week! And it?s been so exciting to see the arrival of more of our F1s (50% Wagyu) and we also saw our first F2s (3/4 Wagyu).
Here are some images of the little ones:
In an exciting first for us, we had three of our fullblood?Wagyu boys at stud?in May with their semen collected for our use and for sale in the EU. We?re also planning on collecting semen for international sale in the future so stay tuned.
Here are our stud muffins...
We also took semen from one of our Aberdeen Angus bulls, Idvies Proud Painter K460, and our Wagyu bull, Odyssey, for sale in the UK only. To round everything off at the end of May, we flushed for embryos in six of our Fullblood Wagyu girls and implanted 25 into Angus, Shorthorn and Highland surrogates and froze the excess haul.
The month of May also saw Mohsin become Vice President for Stirling on the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland board and we were proud to be one of the main sponsors of the Royal Highland Show ? the ?Greatest Show on Earth?.
This year?s show season over the summer has been fantastic ? as has the weather. It?s hard to believe we?re in Scotland with all this sun!
The HW Shorthorn team has been incredibly busy in May and June. Our star line-up of our champion shorthorn bull Quoiggs Extra Special, young bull Quoiggs Freud, Mohmar Georgina, Quoiggs Rhona E530 and her bull calf Mohmar Hercules, heifer Mohmar Gracious Broadhooks and yearling bull Mohmar Genghis Khan brought home the rosettes and trophies from Ayr Show, Fife Show, Stirling Show (for which we were also main sponsors), and the Royal Highland Show.
It?s not all about Wagyus and Shorthorns. In June we made a big announcement for the Aberdeen Angus breed with our exciting partnership with W & D McLaren of Netherton Angus, our neighbours and good friends.
In the last six weeks I?ve been going through the genetics, matchmaking the Wagyu girls with the bulls. I love genetics; I could talk about it all day. To get the Wagyus officially registered, DNA has to go to Ireland before heading to The Australian Wagyu Association. It?s a time-consuming process but absolutely fascinating. I just wish I could spend more time doing it.
As we say on the website, raising Wagyu is considered an art and in order to be successful, it?s 70% genetics and 30% diet. We also like to add in a huge dollop of passion and respect.
What a fantastic week we had with our Shorthorns at the Royal Highland Show, which we sponsored this year. The weather was amazing.
The first day (Thursday, June 19th) saw?Quoiggs Freud join forces with Quoiggs Rhona E530 and her bull calf Mohmar Hercules to take the best pair bred by exhibitor, winning the Durno Bullrich Silver Challenge Cup. This is the second consecutive year this title has gone to Highland Wagyu!
In the classes Quoiggs Freud was 1st (pictured below with Extra Special),?Quoiggs Extra Special was 3rd (pictured top) while?Quoiggs Rhona E530 and Mohmar Hercules were 4th.
On Saturday, June 21st, the talented John McCulloch?took part in the SAYFC Stockmanship Programme, having been picked to participate in the?Clyde and Central C junior team and came second with heifer calf Mohmar Gracious Broadhooks (pictured below).?The following day he did it again, coming second in his young handlers class. Well done John!!
It was such an achievement to take home prizes from the 'Greatest Show on Earth'. We're proud of you Team HW.
We had a fantastic day at Stirling Show, with our Shorthorns winning?four first prizes, two second and?one third with Quoiggs Extra Special making Shorthorn breed champion?(see below).
Quoiggs Extra Special was first in his class and Quoiggs Freud was second in his class while?Mohmar Genghis Khan was third in his class. Pictured below is Extra Special and Freud in the bull class.
Quoiggs Rhona E530?and her bull calf Mohmar Hercules were first in the Cow and Calf class (see below).
Mohmar Georgina (full sister to Extra Special)?was second in her class and Mohmar Hercules won the calf class (see below).
Quoiggs Extra Special, Quoiggs Rhona E530 and Mohmar Hercules won the pairs in the Shorthorn section before winning?the United Auctions Interbreed Pairs Trophy for the best interbreed pair.
Then Quoiggs Extra Special went on to be reserve overall beef champion of the show.
In the Young Handlers classes, young John won the first class for the best beef calf before winning the best Young Handler for the 8th year in a row. ?John can now give someone else a chance as his birthday on Sunday means he's now too old to compete!
Well done to team HW for all their hard work and dedication.
The Highland Wagyu Shorthorn team had an 'Extra Special' day at The Fife Show at Kinloss Farm near Cupar on sunny Saturday, May 24th.
Shorthorn bull?Quoiggs Extra Special (pictured above with focussed HW herdsman George McCulloch) lived up to his name, making second in his class, reserve male, reserve overall champion as well as?Best Animal?Bred by Exhibitor and taking home the JBW Smith Shield.
Meanwhile his little sister?Mohmar Georgina was second in her class and reserve female champion.
And yearling bull Mohmar Genghis Khan was second in his class with handler John McCulloch (pictured below) winning his young handlers class, overall young handler as well the NE Farmers Young Handlers Trophy.
Mohmar Georgina and Mohmar Genghis Khan also won the pairs, with John and his mum Maureen leading them to victory in the show ring (below).
Here's John looking delighted with all the rosettes. Well done team - what a family!
It was a great day at Ayr Show yesterday (Sunday, May 11th) where we took home a trio of first prizes and one second prize for our Shorthorns.
We won first prize in the cow class with Quoiggs Rhona E530 and her bull calf Mohmar Hercules (pictured above),?a first prize in the yearling heifer class with Mohmar Gracious Broadhooks (below).
And our final first prize went to Mohmar Genghis Khan in?the yearling bull class.
We were second in the Beef Shorthorn pairs and John McCulloch, son of HW?herdsman George, won the junior young handlers class and the Kemira UKF Fertilisers Ltd Trophy for the champion beef?young handler.
What a day!
I?ve wanted to write a blog for a while, because I think our story is an interesting one ? at least that?s what I?m told when I tell people why we swapped Dubai for Dunblane.
So here we are halfway through April. Where have the first three months of the year gone? We?ve been hectic with our new calves, our website launch, mad dashes to London to see new customers and lots of love for our beef, which is what it?s all about.
What a week we had in February! A herd test at the same time as animal health wanting to do a spot check on animal passports while I was dying in my bed with the flu.
The weather was awful ? snow and severe gales ? I?m so pleased I came here from sunny Dubai. But, hey I've got beautiful cows now.
I do have my favourite animals, I can?t help it and I love my cuddles at Wagyu Central. If my brush is missing I give them a good scratch with my hands, which turn black - something that would've freaked me out a few years ago!
Some parts of cattle breeding are heartbreaking. One of our new Highlanders bought at Oban gave birth early ? to stillborn twins. My heart went out to the poor girl, and she spent the next day ?looking for them. And then we had a sick Wagyu Angus cross calf, which we lost.
The flip side is that the following month we arrived at the farm to find one of our Highlanders with a calf snuggled next to her. We named him Earrach, which is Gaelic for Spring. Trying to get an ear tag and necessary checks done proved a challenge. His mum wanted to stick her spectacular horns into anyone who came close. Hahaha!
So much going on in March - orders going out, picking up burger samples, another day of herd testing, car disaster, broken tractor returns, happy customers and new ones too.
We?ve hosted loads of visits including the guys doing the catering for the Ryder Cup and the Budding Chefs.
Adam Handling, Head Chef at Caxton Grill ? and newly crowned BCF Chef 2014 - ran an exclusive?Wagyu Month, which sold out in 10 days. (picture below courtesy of Adam Handling and Caxton Grill). He said it was the best he?d ever tasted and had tremendous feedback so was straight on to buy another carcase! Woop!
And we?re chuffed to bits our Wagyu burgers are going down a storm at Edinburgh gastro pub Scran and Scallie.
The final few days in March were spent organising wagyu deliveries to London and Edinburgh. My last Wagyu steer for a couple of months was sold before he's even been slaughtered. Poor soul, I went and gave him a stroke and, of course, a hug. The Wags are the most amazing characters.
I'm pleased that whoever receives our beef knows that we love them from birth and enjoy the end result. Although that may sound a little crazy, it's not! It's definitely what we?re about.