The Isle of Whithorn Agricultural History

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Baling Hay near the Isle of Whithorn
The Isle of Whithorn

The Isle of Whithorn

The Stock

Like all other farms in this area in the early part of the last century, Cutreoch, Boyach, Stannock and Isle Farm all had herds of brown and white Ayrshire milking cows. At this time too all the cows had horns (see photo); these are now removed when the animals are very young as they serve no useful purpose for domesticated animals, and only cause injury to others of their kind and their stockmen.

Now, only Stannock and Isle Farm have milking herds and these are both black & white Holstein cattle. These cattle are bred to provide a large quantity of good quality milk (averaging roughly 14,000 pints per cow per year) and are milked single-handed in modern computerised milking parlours.

Stannock has a herd of some 120 cows, all pedigree, and Isle Farm around 200 cows, some of which are also pedigreed. Cutreoch and Boyach now concentrate on beef production. At present Boyach has 140 suckler cows and followers, mainly Aberdeen Angus x Holstein cows mated with a Limousin bull. Cutreoch and Morrach fatten 350 cattle inside in the winter, and 300 inside and 750 outside in the summer, and also have a small herd of Belted Galloways.

Sheep had always been part of life at Stannock until they were lost in the foot & mouth epidemic of 2001. Although there was generally a small commercial flock, the main enterprise was in breeding rams. This was successfully done with Border Leicesters, then Suffolks, Blue faced Leicesters, and most recently with Charollais and Lleyn breeds. Boyach also lost their flock to foot & mouth - these were commercial cross ewes, a new venture to the farm which they introduced some years ago. Isle Farm’s recent involvement with sheep has mainly been with winterers; Stannock & Boyach also have wintered some in the last few years. Cutreoch at one time sustained a flock of 200-300 mostly Border Leicester/ Suffolk or Border Leicester/Cheviot crosses along with some Blackfaces but the farm does not have any sheep at all now.

All the farms have at one time or another had pigs, but never on a large scale with the exception of Cutreoch who kept 200 pigs during the Second World War and fed them on the swill from Burrowhead Army camp. An eagle eye had to be kept for such “foreign bodies” as cutlery and razor blades! All the farms also kept hens, often just for their own use. Cutreoch had 1000 White Leghorns - every egg had to be wiped clean and all cracked ones removed before packing them into 30 dozen egg boxes. All this for 9 old pence (just under 4p) rising to 11˝ d (just under 5p) around 1946!

Early in the twentieth century, Clydesdale horses provided much of the power on all the farms, and the visit of the stallion was a notable event as, under his groom, he moved from farm to farm, both horse and master being welcome guests. The horses were walked to the smiddy to be shod, some at Glasserton by John or Leslie Hawkins, and others went to Tommy & Hughie Woods at Sorbie. Although there are still a number of Clydesdales in the southern Machars there are none immediately around the village.

In the early 1900’s cattle droves took place from the farms to Whithorn railway station for loading onto cattle wagons to go to market. If the cattle had to stay overnight in Whithorn the gates were put up at the Portmouth (the narrow part of the road before you enter the main street), and what is now the Essentials shop, and so they were corralled in George Street.


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