Out and About with the Calvert family

...of Tasmania, Australia. After 25 years of success with Luing cattle, the Calvert family feel sure they will not be changing breeds anytime soon. They imported Tasmania's first Luings in 1982 and since then they have established a stud herd of 35 and a commercial herd of 200.

Out and About with the Calvert familyThe Benbullen Stud is based on the Calverts' 1215ha property near Mt Barrow in the state's northeast. Because Benbullen is at about 765 metres above sea level, winter can be harsh. Neville Calvert says it was the cold, often snowy, conditions that promoted them to go for cattle that could cope with the chilly weather. The Calvert's began their stud with two in-calf cows with calves at foot and an in-calf heifer. Impressed by the cows' performance, the Calverts slowly built up their numbers. Neville Calvert's son Nigel says that, since introducing Luings to their operation, Benbullen's productivity has increased substantially. An apparent resistance to grass tetany among the breed has been an unexpected bonus.

The Luing genetics have also resulted in a rise in calf slaughter weights. "They're quite versatile," Nigel says. "We've normally grown most of ours out to EU weights, but in the past couple of years we've finished them as yearlings, so they've got the ability to do both...they also marble very well." The Calverts say excellent fertility and calving ease is another benefit. Since they started calving Luing heifers about 12 years ago, the Calverts have only had to assist three heifers, one with a breech birth. About 50 heifers are calved each year. "When you're in country like this, it's no use having cows that don't calve easily," Neville says. Luings grow a thick winter coat that allows them to thrive under cold conditions. Nigel says they are good foragers but will perform equally well on fodder crops. The Calverts breed all their replacement heifers and produce bulls from their stud for the commercial herd. They are using Canadian semen in their artificial insemination programme. Some bulls from the stud are also available for sale. Relatively large-framed cattle, Luings can be a variety of colours and are similar to Shorthorns. Most of the Calvert herd is red.

Taken from the Tasmanian Country publication on 28th March 2008.