PRODUCING good cattle isn't about a specific breed at Jones Farms in Gippsland - it is about optimum production.
Daryl Jones has been breeding cattle for more than 30 years and said it was a type of cattle, rather than a specific breed composition, that recently saw him placed in both the weight gain and carcase sections of the Lardner Park steer trial.
"Our area has always been functional optimum performers, regardless of the breed," he said.
"It is a type of cattle we are breeding, with structure as the number one criteria."
As a breeder of Simmentals since 1981, Mr Jones bred some of the first Black and polled Simmentals when European breeds where being established in Australia.
He has also judged 20 different breeds at Royal shows over the years, giving him a fair idea about different cattle.
Mr Jones – along with sons Jason and Chase – runs 160 autumn-calving Simangus, Limflex and Angus cows, 60 summer-calving Angus-Friesian cows, and 40 spring-calving Inniesdale Angus cows at Moorooduc and Hastings.
He said it sounded complicated but really wasn't.
"Whether they are purebred or crosses, it is hard to detect because they are the same type of cattle," he said.
"All our cattle look the same principally - polled solid-black cattle."
So much so that despite the different breeds within the herd, the Joneses use a coloured tag system to differentiate between their cattle.
"You can sometimes tell a likeness to a certain bull, but breedwise;they all look the same," Mr Jones said.
Black Simmental, Limousin and Angus artificial insemination (AI) sires are used over the cow herd, many members of which are imported.
Good friend and fellow breeder Trevor Hatch, Athlone, has entered and won the Lardner Park steer trial a number of times and has a similar breeding program to the Joneses.
"We have imported semen together from Canada – both Black Simmental and Red Angus – and always had the same philosophy about breeding cattle," Mr Jones said.
The Joneses entered two pairs of Limflex steers in their Lardner Park steer trial last year and achieved the highest weight gain results for the first turn-off, with the top steer gaining 1.64 kilograms a day.
They also performed well in the carcase evaluation, placing third and fourth in the second turn-off.
Despite one of the Jones family's entries being 50 per cent Limousin and the other 75pc, the two steers produced very similar carcases.
The steers were sired by Sandastre Express, a bull imported by Shylie Humphreys, Sandastre Lodge, as an embryo from Express Ranches, Oklahoma, US.
Out of the the well known ELXR Luvly 812M cow, it is the only bull in Australia with this breeding and has been used across the Joneses' herd.
"We have always had different bloodlines and chase the newest embryos from the US and Canada, looking for the exact type needed for crossing with Angus," Mr Jones said.
"We also have three other bulls Shylie has imported, with totally different bloodlines to anyone else.
"Our AI program in both autumn and spring uses semen form overseas as well as bulls from Trevor Hatch, many of which were also bloodlines which Shylie imported.
"We have also been importing semen from Lewis Farms Black Simmentals, Alberta, Canada – one of the leading Simmental herds in North America."