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About Lilliesleaf Angus

Lilliesleaf Angus, was established in 1987 with females leased from the Helmsdale Stud while I was working at Albert Johnston’s property at Edendale, Southland.  It was at “Helmsdale” that my love for the Angus breed was germinated and I lapped up the experience and knowledge that Albert was willing to share with young ears and fresh legs. 

I already had a passion for stud breeding, having 2 sheep studs (Suffock and Perendale) that I managed on the dairy / sheep farm belonging to my parents while I was a school, so working for the Johnston’s was a joy and  where I learnt a lot of the basics of beef cattle breeding.  I was keen on showing stock and Albert was more than happy for me to choose and show his stock on his behalf on the Southern Show circuit.  I have shown my own Angus cattle every year since with some good successes using the opportunities as “Professional Development” time to further fine tune my breeding programme and learn more from judges comments and by rubbing shoulders with other breeders.

Over the years a few different females lines have been purchased, but one cow family stands out in particular – the “B” family, which comes from a heifer calf brought from the Cottesbrock Stud dispersal sale in 1987.

The notable Angus sires used over the years include:

  • Waitapu Governor - a bull that left some well fleshed and excellent dam lines in our herd.
  • Helmsdale Z786 – a sire from the excellent breeding cow Helmsdale E47 leaving functional cattle.
  • Tangihau Highlander 293 – a bull that has left some very good breeding females.
  • 782 of Delmont - a bull with exceptional growth rates.
  • Kaharua Prospect 688 - a sound bull that was very meaty and thick with moderate growth figures.

Recent herd sires being used include:

  • Stern Highlander – a well fleshed son of Te Mania Unlimited.
  • Burke 22 of Turiroa - a well fleshed moderately sized sire.
  • Kinrara 402 - a son of Kinrara 155, a Governor daughter, one of the best breeding females of Pearson Johnston’s herd from across the river.
  • Rangatira 850 – a very well fleshed, easy doing bull purchased in 2008.
  • At least one home bred sire is used each year from good breeding families.

After a stint at Otago University in the early 1990’s, coming away with a Degree and Graduates Diploma majoring in Accounting and Marketing and spending five months in Ethiopia working alongside a Vet, I went share milking on the family dairy farm to earn some money to buy land for the growing Angus herd.

In 2003, my wife Lynne and I, along with my younger brother and his family, moved from the Edendale Family Dairy farm to our present home at Waikaka to farm.  We called the 800 acre property “Halland Downs” and now enjoy the challenge of running 60 stud Angus breeding cows, 35 stud Belted Galloway breeding cows, 1800 commercial breeding ewes, 40 stud Southdown breeding ewes plus the young stock of the above breeding base.  We have also added grain growing and dairy grazing to our farming mix.  In my ‘spare’ I have been working for CRV Ambreed as an AI technician.  My brother works off farm at a local Engineering business.  Together we work well together, he concentrating on the tractor work and me on the stock work.

Since 1990 at the age of 20, I have been the secretary of the Southern Angus Bull Sale (previously known as Southland / Otago Angus Bull Sale) co-ordinating the multi vendor sale, doing the advertising and compiling the sale catalogue for print.  This job has been an enjoyable one and through it have I have made valuable contacts in the breeding world with stud breeders, commercial breeders, stock agents etc.

My interest in the Belted Galloway breed was sparked in the mid 1990’s when mating my dairy heifers, and the benefits from using a Belted bull for ease of calving and an instant marker in calves born.  There is a strong market with lifestyle farmers, so I added a Belted stud to our business mix.  They compliment the Angus very well concentrating on the maternal beef market for the Angus and on the terminal dairy market for the Belteds.  There is a lot of work to be done with the Belted breed and its Society to bring them near the quality of the Angus breed and their organisation.  Recently I have been elected as the NZ Galloway Cattle Society President – I guess when you start making noise about the need for change, that unless you are prepared to put your hand up to help, you should keep quiet!

Since coming to Halland Downs, I was given the opportunity to purchase a Southdown Stud to follow the breeding passion that Albert Johnson had for the terminal sheep sire.  I am the vice-president of the local breeders group and find the Southdown crossed across our commercial flock as a very good terminal sire choice.

I have been, and continue to be a strong advocate of Angus Cattle and think they are well suited to NZ farming conditions.  As mentioned above, I have shown Angus cattle with some good successes and I am working towards breeding quality cattle that will be the seed stock to the maternal NZ beef herd.

At Halland Downs we aim to:

  • Breed functional, easy care stock, which are used as pasture management tools.
  • Have cows that are good mothers, expected to rear a good calf every year from the age of 2 years.
  • Have structurally sound cattle.  Feet, legs and jaw are very important, as these basics are what enable any animal to feed, move to feed, grow, and breed.
  • Have cattle that are easy to handle.  Temperament is very important.
  • Have cattle that have good growth rates, muscle development and the ability to put on fat in times of plenty and to sustain themselves through times when feed is short and conditions are harsh.

Along with the passions that I have mentioned above, I am quite involved with local youth, being a strong supporter of Handler Competitions at A&P shows.  I always have young people involved in my show team (at times more kids than cattle), encouraging them to participate and select animals, teaching them breeding tips that I have picked up along the way, and helping them with their own breeding programmes.  I have judged cattle at shows, but have found that if I go to a show I am taking cattle, so the opportunities don’t come up a lot.  I am also an Associate Inspector for the Angus breed.

Outside of farming related interests I am involved in operatic, singing groups, school and church.  In everything I am involved in, people know that my passion for cattle breeding tends to take priority always encouraging people to use or eat beef.

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