The Herd

hillson herd

Foundation of the Herd

Family origins

The Herd was established in 1978 with the purchase of 3 South Devon heifers from the Morwell herd and some time later the entire Morwell herd was purchased, this herd was originally the Trendwell herd of Mr Darke and surviving families include ( Finesses, Monicas, Donnas) , From 1978 many females were purchased from dispersal sales and privately, Winsor ( Holly’s), Lew Valley ( Winnies, Elizabeths), Horsebridge ( Ednas, ), Edmeston (Hildas, Primroses). Cow numbers have varied from 20-70, currently there are just under 30. The system of management started off as a multi-suckler herd with a Monica rearing 11 calves every year. Gradually a single suckle system was adopted and has prevailed since about 1986.


Many bulls have been used over the years and influential lines were.

  • Edmeston Tom 1st
  • Edmeston Stardust 9th
  • Hillson Terra Firma 3rd
  • Edmeston Centurion 22nd
  • Hillson Centurion 2nd
  • Hillson Centurion 3rd
  • Hillson Persius 1st

Only unassisted born bull calves who suckle quickly and independently and weigh less than 50kgs at birth are kept for breeding.

Only bulls out of females with exceptional working backgrounds are kept.

The herd is bred to produce the best females as a priority and to have trouble free, structurally sound females with good feed efficiency, constitution, calving performance and milking ability who produce lively, vigorous, fast growing, hardy offspring…..literally nothing else is tolerated.

No whimps, no loonies is a very accurate and applicable herd motto.

A female can be in the herd for 20 years so long as she still works well, steers are only in a herd for 2-3 years therefore breeding policy is heavily focused on a female with longevity and a high, reliable performance.

Our bulls may not catch the eye for modern type conformation initially but after several years when the value of their female replacements can be seen, increasing numbers of breeders are commenting that these bulls are the best they have used. This is the result of breeding in successive generations of genes from exceptional working animals on both sides by using predominantly bulls from within the herd. We produce bulls to build herds with.

Prefered cow types and qualities

Hillson Edna 19

Female lines have been selected for their reliability and working ability. It is expected for a cow to calve unassisted, to have strong coated, lively calves ( no more than 50kg as this is about the maximum size possible without creating problems) which get up and suckle quickly and independently and rear them into very large calves by weaning time.

  • Almost all of the animals in the herd were unassisted births.
  • No cows in the herd have had caesareans.
  • Only good calf rearing cows with tidy udders are kept.
  • No cows are kept unless they rear a calf each year.
  • Medium coloured, strong coated cows are the preferred type.
  • No whimps or loonies !
  • Smooth coated or light coloured cows are not favoured.

What we Produce

Steer calves are sold as yearlings at local markets where they make a premium over other breeds, about 25% of the females are retained as replacements and the remainder sold as stores or for breeding with one or two of the best males reared for breeding.