Chance purchase set up Harvey Beef Gate 2 Plate win

Bob Garnant and Cally DupeCountryman
Kevin and Sue Nettleton, of Unison Limousins at Boyanup celebrate their Challenge win with Ewen and Caitlin Nettleton and their children Lumeo, 3, and Mpatso, 7, and Campbell and Aggie Nettleton and their children Patrick, 9, centre, and Benjiman, 7.
Camera IconKevin and Sue Nettleton, of Unison Limousins at Boyanup celebrate their Challenge win with Ewen and Caitlin Nettleton and their children Lumeo, 3, and Mpatso, 7, and Campbell and Aggie Nettleton and their children Patrick, 9, centre, and Benjiman, 7. Credit: Bob Garnant/Countryman, Bob Garnant

It was a chance purchase at the Boyanup saleyards nearly 25 years ago that kickstarted the Nettletons’ love of the Limousin cattle breed.

Kevin and Sue Nettleton’s son, Ewen, purchased a Limousin heifer at the saleyards and brought her back to his parents’ farm to mate with their Limousin bull.

The family had been using Limousin bulls since they started farming in 1979, mating them with first cross heifers to sell in the mated heifer sales.

It was the Limousin heifer’s time at the farm that changed their interest from mated heifers to stud breeding.

The Nettletons saw potential profitability in the highly muscled French breed and quickly developed a relationship with established Limousin breeders in WA.

They started out using genetics from White Lakes at Toodyay and Ravenshill at Narrikup in a bid to improve their herd.

“We were initially attracted to the breed for its carcase quality and over time our vision has evolved,” Mr Nettleton said.

Later, they invested in a “number of cows” from Ravenhills at Narrikup relying on the advice of Neil Foale, a reputable livestock agent and family mentor.

In the 2012-13 financial year, the pair sold about 30 mated Limousin heifers to the Indonesian Government and used the money made to invest in genetics from South Australia.

“With the injection of income and knowledge of the potential financial return, we have developed a very quiet and docile herd that is easy to work with,” Mr Nettleton said.

“Our focus is on docility, low-birth- weights, rapid weight gain once at foot and the provision of quality stud stock for discerning commercial breeders.”

In a bid to learn more about their cattle, the couple have entered their Limousin cattle into the Harvey Beef Gate 2 Plate Challenge each year since its inception in 2015.

They use the data provided in the summary booklet to modify and adjust their genetic selection to breed a softer, earlier maturing animal to meet the requirements of the commercial breeders.

“There have been highs and lows with our entries, and we have learnt from all of those experiences,” Mr Nettleton said.

Not only did their Apricot Limousin team of two steers and one heifer take out the top gong this year, but their second team of three Black Limousins were placed fifth.

Mr Nettleton said the pair was delighted with the top place win, and the results in the feedback sheets correlated with those from their own small feedlot at their farm.

They also had success in the best feedlot performance category, taking out first and second for their Apricot and Black teams, respectively.

They now have 86 cows, with a focus on providing quality calves that have a low birth- weight, rapid weight gain, are docile and can be sold at affordable price to the commercial breeder. The Nettleton’s Unison cattle are based on Maryvale bloodlines, and they regularly buy bulls and heifers from the Vogt family’s stud at Kapunda in South Australia. “Simon Vogt is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge of the Limousin breed,” Mr Nettleton said.

“Maryvale imports bulls, semen and embryos from Canada, and the Vogts have influenced the direction of Limousins in Australia. We have benefited from their expertise.”

Through his lengthy involvement with the South West Football League, Mr Nettleton tries to “keep the game safe”.

The Nettletons believe in the Challenge and said the committee had promoted excellence. “We would like to acknowledge the major sponsor, Harvey Beef, its owners Andrew and Nicola Forrest, the gold, silver and fellow bronze sponsors and finally the untiring committee members,” Mr Nettleton said.

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