It might be dismissed as a cliche but the adage that an apple never falls far from the tree is applicable to the Robertson family from Southland.
The Robertsons farm Duncraigen Farm at Mimihau near Wyndham and the cornerstone of their business are stud Hereford cattle, Romney and Dorset Down stud sheep and various crosses of those breeds.
Stud breeding and stockmanship is in Bruce and Carolynn Robertson’s blood.
Bruce’s parents, Frank and Sue, were stud breeders near Greytown in Wairarapa; Carolynn’s father had a reputation as an exceptional stockman and now their two adult children will be the family’s third generation of stud breeders.
Frank and Sue bred Romney and Dorset Down sheep and thoroughbred horses, including Melbourne Cup winner Rising Fast.
The horse was the first ever to win the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate races in the same year, 1954.
The following year Rising Fast ran second in the Melbourne Cup and won the Caulfield Cup for a second time.
Bruce and Carolynn bought Duncraigen off the estate of Carolynn’s parents Harry and Jean Anderson in 1987 and have been breeding stud stock ever since.
While it is a passion and an interest it has played a far more important role, allowing the Robertsons to grow their business to the point where they own two farms on which to settle the next generation.
They are now in the process of assisting their son Marc and his wife Jolene and daughter Casey and her husband Luke Caldwell onto the farms.
Bruce says it is possible because of the success and income generated from more than 30 years of stud breeding.
Succession isn’t an easy process with Casey describing a recent day with an accountant as exhausting.
The fact the Robertsons are in this position also reflects a strong family bond that has been cemented around the discipline and love of farm work and farm life, the challenge of breeding stud sheep and cattle, involvement in breed societies and from showing stock at A and P Shows.
“The kids went everywhere we did,” Carolynn says.
Otago and Southland Dorset Down breeders send their top ram lambs to Duncraigen to be monitored for growth rates and eye muscle for three months.