ILC Visit – The RONICK HERD
One of the most famous bulls in the Limousin breed – Broadmeadows Cannon, is just one of the many fine cattle which have played a major role in the history of the Ronick pedigree herd.
This herd of over 250 breeding females, belongs to the Dick family, based at Mains of Throsk in the Carse of Stirling in Central Scotland. David Dick, wife Alison and son Ronald farm their own 2,500 acres of arable land to the east of Stirling. They also do “stubble to stubble” contract work on a further local 1,000 acres. David and Alison’s daughter – Wendy, is married to Ian Callion. The couple run their own pedigree “Lodge” Limousin herd nearby.
The Dicks also run a commercial herd of just under 130 Limousin – blooded cows.
A glance at the history of the Ronick herd reveals an array of achievements, which individually would be the wildest dream of many pedigree breeders of any breed. Ronick holds an all breeds price record, has bred one of the most prolific bulls in the Limousin breed, showed the first Limousin to win the Royal Show Individual Beef Championship and has bucketsful of championship rosettes from the very top shows in the land. And it all started with “Barney”!
Little Ronald Dick fed Barney, a Friesian bull calf, every morning and evening, before and after school. When Barney was sold, he returned enough money for Ronald to buy three calves. These three bought nine and so things progressed. Some years later, Ronald Dick had amassed £5,000 from his calf venture and knew exactly how he would spend it.
While Ronald had been rearing calves, his father had been buying and finishing store cattle. “In the 1970’s I bought my first bunch of Limousin cross suckled calves out of Lanark mart”, explained David. “They out-performed any other cattle I had ever bought. From then on I not only aimed to buy Limousin crosses, but also converted the suckler herd to Limousin X Friesian cows put to Limousin bulls”.
Ronald had decided to invest his £5,000 in a pedigree Limousin female. On March 28th 1980, he was about to leave Throsk for a Limousin sale at Carlisle, when his father said “I’ll just jump in the car with you”. “Good job he came”, said Ronald. “I chose in-calf Fingask Natalie with Keerholme Pandora at foot. She sold for 5,500 gns, over my budget, so Dad made up the difference”. In fact David also bought one for himself – the maiden heifer Skelden Ombre.
The Ronick herd was founded – as a hobby! A “hobby” which has since developed into over 250 pedigree breeding females! After purchasing their pick from the Druk herd dispersal in 1980, the Dicks needed a good stock bull. October 1981, Carlisle, an Osiris son Goldies Rascal, a prize winner at the 1981 International Limousin Congress show, caught their eye. “We also liked the look of Tanhill Rumpus, another bull at the I.L.C.”, explained David, “but we opted for Rascal and paid a new record price – 8,000 gns”. That record lasted approximately 15 minutes – when Tanhill Rumpus took his turn in the ring, he sold for 8,500 gns, to the current Limousin Society President, Douglas Crighton of the Broadmeadows herd.
Over two decades later, Limousin enthusiasts now know that had the Dicks bought Rumpus, they would have re-written British Limousin history. There would not have been a BROADMEADOWS CANNON.
For when Douglas Crighton mated Tanhill Rumpus with Broadmeadows Tansy, she produced Broadmeadows Ainsi. Ainsi, when mated with the Favori-sired Broadmeadows V.I.P., bred a bull called Broadmeadows Cannon, destined to be the most prolific sire in the history of the British Limousin breed. Cannon had topped the 1988 Carlisle October sale when bought by Matt Ridley of the Haltcliffe herd for 8,000 gns. In 1990, David Dick judged the North West Limousin Club Herd competition. He awarded the Progeny prize to the Haltcliffe offspring of Broadmeadows Cannon, then persuaded Matt Ridley to sell the bull. The Dicks already had his dam – Broadmeadows Ainsi, bought at the 1988 Broadmeadows Dispersal, for 8,200gns. By then, after serving three years as Vice-Chairman of the Limousin Cattle Society, David Dick was Chairman.
At the 1991 Royal Show, Ainsi not only won glory for the Ronick herd when she won the breed championship, she also went on to grab the glory for the entire Limousin breed, by becoming the first Limousin to win the prestigious Supreme Interbreed Individual Championship, just one of her many, many top show successes.
The following year at Throsk, a very special Ainsi grandson was born – Ronick Hawk, sired by Broadmeadows Cannon and out of Ronick Esther. While being shown at the Royal Show as a youngster, Hawk was spotted by Genus, who bought him privately for their A.I. stud. He has since become the “Genus WonderBull”, guaranteeing commercial and pedigree breeders consistent top quality.
One of his crossbred sons – Danny Boy, won the 2000 Royal Smithfield Show. At the other end of the commercial scale, another of his sons topped the opening sale of the Rural Centre on the Isle of Tiree in August 2003. The highest price Hawk son is Penyrheol Sam, which sold for 13,000 gns at Carlisle in May 2003. He is also a great sire of pedigree stock, with sons selling to five figures. In fact as at 12th January 2004, Ronick Hawk was the second most prolific pedigree sire in the Limousin breed – with 2158 pedigree progeny. The only bull with more registered calves was his sire – Broadmeadows Cannon, with 2617. In third place, with 2084, was Fanfaron, one of the 24 bulls in the first Limousin importation in 1970.
Cannon’s semen is available from the Dicks. Alison Dick is in charge of semen sales, and mischievously tells her nonfarming chums that she is a “semen seller”! Ronick Hawk’s dam – Ronick Esther, his full sister Ronick Sandra and half sister, the Gaspard-sired Ronick Isabelle, have recently found a new home – in the Goldies herd of James K. Goldie and family in Dumfries-shire. Hawk is just one of several Cannon sons at A.I.. Others include Broadmeadows Lydo, Redpaths Jaguar and Hartside Jacko.
Broadmeadows Ainsi has proved herself to be more than just a bull breeder – in November 1997 at the Carlisle Red Ladies Sale, Ronick McAinsi, out of Ainsi and sired by Talent, won the championship and topped the sale at a new maiden heifer all breeds record, which as at January 2004, still stands – 28,000 gns. The buyer – Doug Mash of the Brockhurst herd, Chesham, Buckinghamshire. Ronick McAinsi is still a looker – at the 2003 Royal Welsh, she won the female and reserve Limousin championship. There are a number of Ainsi daughters still in the Ronick herd. Broadmeadows Ainsi was not just a beautiful cow, but also the type of cow every breeder dreams of owning – with strength of breeding capable of producing top quality calves of either sex, sired by a variety of bulls.
The Dicks had the foresight to buy her even before they had seen the quality of her son, Broadmeadows Cannon’s calves. Whether it was luck or judgement, who knows? Whichever it was, either luck or judgement had also been in play in 1981. Building numbers for their “hobby” herd, the Dicks bought three imported heifers from Albert Howie of the Knock herd in Aberdeenshire, including Rive. Rive bred Ronick Tracy, the dam of Ronick Beauty, who was reserve female champion and reserve champion at the Royal in 1989, and who produced Ronick Danita, Scottish Female of the Year 1995, Overall champion Limousin 2000 in 1996, plus 1997 Royal Highland champion, where she beat her daughter Ronick Janita into reserve.
Janita became one of the most successful show cattle in Limousin history, Her outstanding show career included:- (between 1997 and 2000) – Royal Show Burke Trophy Reserve Royal Show Burke Trophy Royal Show – two Supreme Championships and two Reserve Supreme Championships. Royal Highland – two Supreme Championships and two Reserve Supreme Championships. A Limousin 2000 Supreme Championship and Scottish Female of the Year, three times. Janita’s daughter – Ronick Tanita was Junior champion at the 2003 Royal Highland. “To win what we did with Broadmeadows Ainsi was absolutely wonderful”, said David, “but nothing can beat the thrill of winning a big show with one of your own home-bred animals and Beauty, Danita, Janita and Tanita gave us those thrills, which we’ll never, ever forget”.
Four of the five current herd sires at Ronick are from the “Beauty” family. The other is Bailea Olympia, bred by Brian Jones of Wales. This son of Marron was the Carlisle May 2000 champion and cost 14,000 gns. Head Stockman of the Ronick herd is the enthusiastic Dougie McBeath, but with over 250 breeding females, plus followers, even Dougie’s enthusiasm is struggling to cope. Therefore on November 20th, at Carlisle, the Ronick herd, which has carved its name throughout the British history of the Limousin breed, will hold its Inaugural sale.
David Dick was born onto a small tenanted Stirlingshire farm, which is now part of the 2,500 acre enterprise owned by the Dicks. David was just seven when, with feet only just reaching the tractor pedals, he ploughed at his first ploughing match and won a third prize. Before he had ploughed at his last, he had won three Scottish championships and a British championship in 1970. His son Ronald inherited David’s determination, which has also resulted in national glory for the family – his schoolboy calf rearing enterprise generated the funds to buy a pedigree Limousin, founding the Ronick herd. David Dick’s match plough, a Ransome, is still at Throsk, confident that one day in the future, David will again put it through its paces.
Also at Throsk are hundreds of Limousin cattle, brimming with some of the most successful bloodlines in the breed. Who would dare prophesy what the future holds for them?!
John Nattress recognised the potential of the Limousin breed from his first crop of cross-bred calves in 1971. Even he could not have foreseen that within three short decades, pedigree Limousins from his own family’s herd would be topping Society sales and setting breed record averages.