Lotfeeder keeps calm and carries on

Rueben HaleCountryman
Benger lotfeeder Jen Roberts spends hours each day among her cows.
Camera IconBenger lotfeeder Jen Roberts spends hours each day among her cows. Credit: Melanie Santiago Contour Media

Benger lotfeeder and cattle breeder Jen Roberts can claim to know a thing or two about producing prize cattle, after her champion Limousin cow claimed an unprecedented two top-awards at the Harvey Show a fortnight ago.

The champion cow was judged champion for the hoof steer competition and named champion for the carcase competition, with near perfect scores in both events.

Harvey Beef purchased the 514kg Limousin Steer for $4200, which dressed at 293.30kg with 6mm fat, and then donated most of the prime cuts to the service.

Countryman visited Mrs Roberts at the Willowbank feedlot and cattle stud she and her husband manage for well-known cattle producer and former beef shop proprietor Kevin Armstrong.

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Mr Armstrong had purchased the valuable property as a section of the former Heytesbury stud, owned by the late Sir Robert Holmes a Court.

The busy stud is one of a network of three livestock properties owned by Mr Armstrong that trade a combined total of about 8000 cattle a year, with the Benger property also being used a cattle quarantine facility.

Mrs Roberts said they currently had mixture of Angus, Limousin and Santa Gertrudis cattle that made up about 80 breeders on the property.

“The property has a peak of about 3000 head, with about 400 births each year,” she said. This year we mostly bought in Angus cattle, but we also got in some Limousin bulls as well.

I tend to muck around a bit and try different crosses across the breeds, but the money seems to be in Angus at the moment because of the heavy marketing of the breed as a brand by McDonald’s.”

Mrs Roberts said she was quite good at picking a champion cow as calf, but the secret to breeding an animal with a highly sought calm temperament was the way you worked with the cattle.

“Obviously the physical attributes I look for in a champion cow is looking for a good type, with good muscling and good evenness throughout body,” she said. “But its how you handle your cattle that helps breed prize cows and also great specimens for the saleyards.”

Mr Roberts said she and her husband sit in the paddock and have beer with the cows of an evening.

“It’s really important to get in and walk among the cows as much as you can and while we are there we often hand-feed them some carrots of or some branches or hay,” she said.

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