Wedderlie prepares to celebrate herd’s 100 years

Marion and John Tilson, and their daughter, Wanda Hobbs
Marion and John Tilson, and their daughter, Wanda Hobbs

The renowned Wedderlie herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle celebrates its centenary this summer.

And owners John and Marion Tilson, and their daughter, Wanda Hobbs, will host an open day at their farm, near Gordon, on Saturday, August 16.

Marion, whose family has farmed at Wedderlie since 1942, said: “The Wedderlie Aberdeen-Angus herd has always been the backbone of our farming enterprise and we want to demonstrate how the Aberdeen-Angus breed, with its hardiness and excellent maternal attributes, coupled with the strong consumer demand and premium prices for the end product, is the ideal breed for an exposed hill farm such as Wedderlie.”

The Wedderlie herd was founded by A.W. Baird in 1914 and was taken over by Mrs Tilson’s grandfather, Capt Thomas Elliot, when he acquired the farm in 1942. The 2,500-acre hill unit rises from 800ft to 1200ft.

On Capt Elliot’s death in 1954, the farm and herd were bequeathed to his daughter, Mrs J.R.L. Campbell, who, with her husband, Jock, continued to run the herd very successfully for many years.

Mr and Mrs Tilson, both former presidents of the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society, have guided the herd to even greater success, helped by Wanda who, as well as being in charge of the herd’s day-to-day management, has her own small Ellin herd which runs with the Wedderlie cattle.

The herd’s most recent success was at the Stirling bull sales in February when Wedderlie Ebsolution won the reserve supreme championship and sold for the second top price of 17,000gns.

The supreme championship was won in 2008 with Wedderlie Blackdown, which sold for 24,000gns and in 2003 the bull, Wedderlie Netmark, realised the top price of 25,000gns.

Wanda hit the jackpot with her own herd in 2009 when Ellin Evermore won the supreme championship and sold for 16,000gns.

However, most bulls are sold privately off the farm to both pedigree and commercial breeders: “We sell 50 or 60 bulls a year mostly to commercial buyers who know our bulls are structurally correct, reared naturally, not over-fed and backed by authenticated performance figures,” said John. “We have many repeat buyers each year which is testimony to the service we try to provide.”

Spring born steers are finished on the farm and sold to Scotbeef while autumn born steers are sold as yearling stores at St Boswells. The herd is closed, except for occasional stock bulls, with replacement females bred on the farm.

In addition to 195 pedigree Aberdeen-Angus cows and followers, which are managed on a strictly commercial basis, the farm supports a flock of 1760 ewes with all lambs, except for replacements, sold prime to Scotbeef.

The open day will include farm tours and practical demonstrations and competitions, including stock judging, a sheepdog handling demonstration and a parade by the Lauderdale Foxhounds. And Wedderlie beef will be part of a barbecue provided by Steve Mitchell of The Buffalo Farm. The open day starts at 10am, with official opening at 11am.