ABOUT 20 years ago Alison Crestani first considered running a Limousin stud herd.
Impressed by the breed’s high muscle yield and growth, she and husband Steve ordered a subscription to the Limousin Leader and began paying attention to society and breed news.
“They seemed to us to be where things were heading; if you looked at market reports, Limousin-cross calves always seemed to be up at the top of the market, topping consistently,” Mrs Crestani said.
“We could see they were a popular breed and produced results for vealer producers.”
When they purchased a 49 hectare block of land at Neerim in 2002 the dream became a reality.
Keen to begin a stud aimed at producing bulls for vealer producers in the Gippsland region, they bought two Limousin heifers in calf and a bull from The Eyrie stud in the Western District.
They also made a number of commercial cattle purchases, namely Angus and Angus-Friesian cows.
They used the bull over the commercial cows and produced vealers for a number of years.
“We wanted to start out doing the commercial stuff because we needed to learn about producing vealers and know what was required in a bull.”
But with only 49ha, Mrs Crestani said they decided a stud would be a better fit for their land.
“We could see, with only 49ha, we weren’t big enough to run a commercial operation or make a lot of money out of it as a full-time enterprise.
“With a stud more intensive, we thought it was better suited to our smaller property.”
They were also keen to make a difference to the future of the breed.
“We wanted to improve the breed, rather than produce vealers which ended up as meat.”
Today they are fully stocked with stud Limousins and run a small number of commercial cows which are used as recipients in their embryo transfer program.
They built their stud from a foundation of French Pure genetics as well as polled and Australian bulls.
Early in the piece their numbers were greatly boosted by a punt taken on a mob of older cows.
The stud was Kooragulla at Shady Creek and the breeder was dispersing his herd.
“He had some good old genetics and although we could see the cows were nearing their last legs we thought we’d take a punt and if we could get a calf or two out of them, we thought the bloodlines were worth taking a risk on.”
The move paid off and a bull bought in the dispersal, Hagley Somerville, has made big genetic inroads in their breeding.
“He was a pretty amazing bull: structurally correct and great docility.”
This latter factor has been very important to Tandara breeding aims and it is joined by a focus on legs – “ this is imperative because cattle need to walk and bulls need to work without leg problems” – feed conversion, milk, and structural soundness.
Their herd of 60 breeders is joined twice yearly, for spring and autumn calving – a carry-over from previous purchases.
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