WITH the continuous sprawl of the city limits, Bullsbrook is fast gaining the attention of developers, but that hasn’t kept Lindsay Payne from farming his plots of land between Bindoon and the Upper Swan totalling about 809 hectares, where he rears calves, cuts hay and does what he loves.
“Dad bought me the home block here in Bullsbrook when I was 13 and said from now on, you won’t have a life,” Lindsay joked.
“That was the start of it and fast forward a few years, in 1968 we started Linsmau Shorthorn stud – doing it on weekends, holidays and whenever we had a spare moment.
“It was the love of Shorthorns that really got me into stud breeding and at one stage I took it up to 50 bulls a year.”
But Lindsay said the wheels fell off with the introduction of Bos Indicus cattle to the north.
“We were selling our bulls into the pastoral country and they wanted red cattle, so with the Shorthorns I lent towards reds all the time, but the demand fell back and now I just run a commercial herd of about 150 breeders,” he said.
“It got to the point where my kids grew up, got better jobs and didn’t want to come back farming and the bull industry is pretty intensive – if you want to produce a $10,000 bull, you’ve got to put your heart and soul into it.
“So I started doing the figures and I thought stud breeding wasn’t going to continue paying.”
Back then the wave of interest towards black cattle had started.
“Everyone was going black so I thought I can do that too – I’ll just breed black Shorthorns,” Lindsay said.
“So I went for about four years with a little herd until I had pure blacks after introducing Angus genetics to the herd.
“But one day I looked at them and I just didn’t get the feeling of love for them I had for my red cattle, so then I had to work out what I was going to do to produce cattle I wanted to – that people would want to buy.”
Lindsay looked at Blonde d’Aquitaine cattle as an option initially but when he came across the Limousin breed, he decided to have a go.
“People said you had to be a young man to catch Limousin calves which did turn out to be true initially,” he said.
“But one of the main problems I was trying to address with the Shorthorns was the females and the Limousin blood fixed that.
“I was finding you get a 30 cent discount at the saleyards because buyers just don’t like pure Shorthorn heifers, so that was a problem but when I put a Limousin over them, everything was an apricot colour and the heifer muscle pattern was very similar to the steers which buyers like.
“So if you use big-framed Shorthorns or later maturing types with a Limousin bull, you’ll get extremely long heifers that have got that top muscle and all of a sudden I was finding that I was getting nearly the same price for my heifers as the steers.”
But Lindsay said they still had a few temperament issues.
“So then I needed to deal with that side of things and went about finding the right, quiet bulls,” he said.
“When I bought my first bull from the Tara stud, suddenly the calves were just as quiet as the pure Shorthorn calves.”
After taking the time to work on his herd and selecting the right bulls, the results at the saleyards showed Lindsay’s formula was working out.
“It has turned into a bit of a joke – people laugh and ask me how much I pay to get my name on the top price list in the Farm Weekly market pages but at one point I got 342c/kg for steers which was about 30c/kg higher than what was being paid at the time,” he said.
“So yes, they sell well if the temperament is right, they’re prepared properly and have that British Breed base.”
Lindsay keeps a Shorthorn bull to breed replacement heifers from, meaning the equation for the turn off program is always a pure Shorthorn female that is mated to a Limousin bull.
“I’ve tried F1 heifers but found whatever vigour it is that you get from the initial cross, you lose it straight away with F1 heifers,” he said.
“I’ve got a Shorthorn bull which is out of a really good female and I’ll put him in for 21 days initially then pull him out so the Limousins can go in.
“This year I was down on my numbers a bit so I put two in.
“I’ve also got quite a few steers and I would probably have 25 heifers I can keep this year.
“But the rest come off at about 10 months old and they’re usually sitting between 330-360kg, depending on the year.”
The breeding mix at Lindsay’s property is more effective considering the lack of special treatment the calves get prior to sale.
“I breed as close to organic as close as you can possibly get,” Lindsay said.
“I only backline cattle that show signs and that might be two or three in a mob.
“The calves get nothing on them.
“They’re born and come off their mothers without any needles or anything.
“So they’re born and sold without anything – they’re basically organically grown.”
And when it comes to feed, there’s nothing special in the system either, making strong prices achieved at the saleyards all the more impressive, when the calves are reliant on their quality of genetics and what Lindsay can grow out of the ground.
He said selling calls from when they were born, right up until when they were sold, required a lot of effort.
“Once you’ve bred them and fed them, then you need to sell them and be involved in that selling process – do your best to find a market for them,” Lindsay said.
“I take the same approach as I did when I was breeding stud cattle for the stations – I’d go up there, see how the cattle were working, find out what they wanted and provided it to them.
“It’s the same at the saleyards down here.
“We do get run down by the odd inferior line of Shorthorns coming out of pastoral country every now and then, but generally the buyers are getting familiar with the quality we produce now and the results speak for themselves.”