"Gillarunna" - Muckle Roe, Shetland

"Gillarunna" Herd - Jim and Jane Johnson, Muckle Roe, Shetland 

Hello fellow breeders. I was told it was time I contributed a herd profile of the Gillarunna kye for the Facebook page, I am not a prolific writer so this profile may be a bit on the short side.

Gillarunna is located on Muckle Roe, an island just off Mainland Shetland, and joined to it by a short bridge. Muckle Roe means “big red island”, after the red granite which it is made from. When the herd was formed back in the early 90s from a start with four weaned calves alongside our crossbred herd, their fortunes have ebbed and flowed with the various constraints and limited opportunities afforded a small livestock enterprise this far north. I need not say much about the fine qualities of the Shetland here, as you are all likely well aware of them, so I will stick to what I tend to look for in my kye, where I have succeeded and where I have failed.

At the outset good temperament was of great importance as we had a young family involved with the day-to-day keeping of the kye. As important, a good strong frame, correct feet and a good well attached tidy udder with good capacity – the milk is exceptionally good and is one of the breed’s strongest assets. Well all that seems simple enough!

But you all know nothing ever goes to plan! So after 28 years I rarely look at my kye and see the perfect coo, there is always something that could be better. This year eight coos and two heifers are running with the bull Gillarunna Robbie. He is a fair good bull, but is too closely related to the females. Gillarunna Thor is in the same situation so will likely go with Robbie in October (i.e. be moved on).

Our crossbred herd is the product of our Shetlands and Limousine bulls which provide the greater part of our income. The crossbred Shetland-Limousine is a strong upstanding coo that clearly reflects attributes from both its parents. They are economical, able to calve to the Blonde D'Aquitaine with ease and have plenty of milk, in short, good mothers. We dehorn them as they are kept inside in winter in large pens. None of it would be possible without our small herd of pure Shetland coos, they are the foundation stock of the holding and will likely be so for a while yet.

For the Gillarunna Shetlands an over reliance on home bred bulls has not been a good thing, they are where they are, and I have a way to go before I can say I have got it right. Best wishes to you all.

Gillarunna kye grazing the shore.
Shetland X Limousin coos above Gillarunna house.
Shetland X Limousin coos above Gillarunna house.
Gillarunna Janice. Although this was taken a while ago she is still breeding at 15.
Gillarunna Katie.
Gillarunna Innes upon his return from Northern Ireland
Gillarunna crossbred kye.
Gillarunna Miriam.
Jim inspecting his kye.
Gillarunna Shetlands and crossbreds.
Gillarunna kye inside in winter.
Kye grazing at Gillarunna.

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