DURING the 2012 Limousin World Congress held in Denmark, one particular bull stopped Mark and Debbie Reynolds in their tracks.
The impressive apricot sire Engkjaer Get It not only topped the show the Reynolds saw but also won champion Limousin bull at Denmark's national show last July, when the three-year-old sire tipped the scales at 1344 kilograms.
Mr Reynolds instantly wanted to get some Get It genetics in his own Billy Creek Limousin stud at Hazelwood.
"We regularly use top sires to AI (artificially inseminate) our females, but it was the first time I had seen a bull and chased it," he said.
He succeeded in importing 20 straws from Get It, of which he shared 10 with Gavan Budge, of Yallourn North.
By November 25, there were three Get It calves on the ground marking the first drop of the Danish champion bull's calves in Australia.
The two bull calves and one heifer calf impressed Mr Reynolds, in spite of being only days old.
There was one more calf to be born.
The Reynolds focus on breeding docile cattle that calve easily, and aim to produce apricot, polled animals that retain the characteristic Limousin muscling.
Although Mr Reynolds is confident Get It's genetics will bring much to Billy Creek's breeding program, he is a horned animal, which demonstrates a willingness to consider horned genetics if an animal can improve other traits.
"Since establishing the stud in 2005, we have steadily improved the herd and taken steps towards those apricot, polled, docile animals that still have the pure-bred Limousin shape, but if you chase poll genetics too quickly you can lose muscle and shape."
The Reynolds AI'd polled cows with Get It's material in a bid to get polled progeny.
Generally, they like their stud heifers to calf when they are 2 to 2.5 years old, to keep genetic gain progressing well in the stud, but give them a little break before they have their second calf to ensure longevity.
Taking part in two Limousin World Congresses (the other in France) drove home to the Reynolds the popularity of the Limousin breed in Europe.
"In France and Denmark, it is all Limousins and other European, not British, breeds, and we were told in the UK, 40 per cent of cattle are Limousins.
"It gives us hope that Australians will follow because Limousins have more meat, less fat, calving ease and longevity – and butchers love Limousin-cross vealers and they tend to top the market."
Most of Billy Creek clients are also in Gippsland and include vealer producers and other Limousin studs.
Before Mark and Deb established Billy Creek in 2005 with females from Donna Valley, White Lakes, Willow Park and Bruangil Park studs, they used Limousin bulls to produce vealers.
Mr Reynolds is excited Limousins will be the feature breed at the 2015 Royal Melbourne Show, and hopes it will be a good opportunity to promote the breed.