Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Could this be beef’s best-kept secret?

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The Limousin breed is not what it used to be and is now a good option for dairy farmers looking to increase the value of their dairy-beef cross calves.
Through careful breeding, Limousin cattle are quiet, fast growing, and offer low birth weight for calves.
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This article first appeared in our sister publication, Dairy Farmer.

Limousin cattle once had a reputation for being a bit on the disorderly side, but that’s certainly no longer the case, say Mangatara Limousin owners Erik and Lyn van der Velden.

“The Limousin breed has a quiet temperament, which is quite the turnaround as they used to be known as the ‘wild breed’,” Erik says. 

“But in 1995 an EBV for docility was developed and now the problem has been addressed. Through careful breeding, they are now some of the quietest cattle around.”

The Van der Veldens calve down the largest registered Limousin herd in New Zealand – about 250 Limousin cows – on their 500ha Dannevirke property. All young stock and up to 90 Limousin bulls are raised on farm. Six hundred ewes and 800 Cashmere goats complete their diverse farm business.

They started breeding Limousin cattle in 1985, which they did for five or six years.  After taking a break they got back into breeding the cattle in earnest in 2008 and have invested in diverse genetics through AI and ET programs. 

“Our aim is to breed quality stock for farmers using Limousin genetics in the dairy industry,” Erik says.

“The breed offers low birth weight calves for easy calving, and fast growth. We have plenty of clients looking for them and they pay top prices for quality Limousin cattle.”

Limousin is one of the highest in the world for yield grading, and the meat is tender and lean. Twenty-five of Mangatara Stud’s Limousin bulls will go under the hammer this month.

Farmers who use Limousin genetics over their dairy herd choose to either finish them or sell them as weaners.

“Those choosing to finish them do so because the meat yield from a Limousin is outstanding, with carcases hanging at 60%+ of liveweight,” Erik says.

“Limousin is one of the most efficient breeds in converting grass to red meat, making it a lower carbon footprint per kilogram of red meat.”

In the United Kingdom, Limousin is the No 1 beef breed used in the dairy industry for AI, and Erik is hoping that more Kiwi farmers will see the benefits to be had from using this breed.

“The weight gain and yield from Limousin cattle is exceptional,” he says. “In the UK, farmers are paid on yield grading, which is the meat on the animal. Limousin is one of the highest in the world for yield grading, and the meat is tender and lean.”

Erik says around 30 years ago there was some research done in NZ around crossing Jersey and Kiwicross cows with beef, and the data found that Limousin tended to be one of the best to use.

The Van der Veldens are passionate about the Limousin breed and are proud to be breeding quality carcase animals for today’s farmers.

Mangatara Limousin is having an open day on May 15, with 25 polled bulls (both apricot and black in colour) up for sale, as well as a selection of females. There will also be semen available for AI.

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