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simmy-bull.jpgThe Atlow herd of pedigree Simmentals was established in 1988. Since then the founder David Donnelly from Asbourne in Derbyshire has become a renowned serial winner at various shows around the country. And whilst rearing top-notch cattle may be his passion, it is not his day job.

David is actually managing director of a company specialising in old buildings – a role that takes up the majority of his time, so the 50-acre farm he runs with his wife Susan is very much an enthusiastic hobby. But his love of the 30 cattle he runs shines out of every pore and his dedication to the Simmental has delivered the prestigious RASE overall interbreed supreme championship twice with Atlow Rhians Valentine – a feat never before accomplished by the breed.

This year the herd has achieved further major honours with young bull Atlow Dixon becoming supreme champion at the Stirling Bull Sales in February. Atlow Dixon was born in November 2012 to the Irish heifer Kilbride Farm Dora and sired by Lisglass Barnabus.

“Right from the day he was born we knew he would be special, and so it has proved,” David says. “He stayed on his mother until August 2013 during which time he – along with all our other calves – were allowed free access to a coarse mix ration supplemented with Rumenco’s XPLS yeast.”

Growth on the ration was prodigious and by the time Atlow Dixon arrived at the Stirling Bull Sales at around 16 months of age he was 30kg heavier than his nearest rival in his age group category.

“His daily live weight gain was phenomenal and he was actually as much as 82kg heavier than one of the other bulls in the category, despite being the youngest in his class of 150 Simmental bulls. The judge initially pulled him out as the junior champion, but then awarded him the overall supreme championship when he came up against the senior and intermediate champions,” David says.

Atlow Dixon went on to make 15,000 guineas at Stirling and is now starting a new life in Scotland with the Islavale herd.

“We put great faith in the ration we feed and I was first introduced to XPLS yeast by another pedigree breeder who swears by it. It’s a fermented yeast culture and not only helps improve rumen function to help the stock get the most out of their coarse mix ration, but also seems to improve cow health and appearance. The cattle we have fed it to have a fantastic bloom – so much so that we have now feed the cows on it too and have been delighted with the results.”