? Tasmanian Luings

Neville, Odette, Nigel and Vanessa Calvert 

Ph (+61) 3 63993371   Ph Fax (+61) 3 63993515

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Bred and owned by Dr. R. B. Church
Photo taken courtesy Lochend Ranch, Alberta January 2006  


  The question most people ask is ‘what are they like?

The Luing breed can be red, golden, white or a combination of those colours, carrying a heavy winter coat, particularly the young cattle.

The breed originated on the Isle of Luing, an island belonging to the Cadzow family off the West coast of Scotland.

It is the only breed developed in the UK in the last 100 years, and the only breed to be recognized by a separate act of the British Parliament.

 In 1937, because it was becoming increasingly difficult to buy Shorthorn cross Highlander heifers, the traditional mainstay of the Scottish suckler calf breeding industry, the Cadzow Brothers decided to buy the very best they could find and try to stabilize the cross as a breed.

 In 1966 their efforts were rewarded with recognition by the British Parliament of the Luing breed and in 1972 the Cadzow Brothers won the worldwide Massey Ferguson Award for services to Agriculture in recognition of their work in developing the breed. 

 They are now established in more than a dozen countries around the world.

  How do they perform?

Since we introduced them in 1982 we have found that our productivity has increased in a number of ways:

Since we introduced them in 1982 we have found that our productivity has increased in a number of ways:

1.     Cow survival – since the introduction of the Luings our cow survival rates have improved dramatically.  The most obvious way this has occurred is a dramatic drop in the incidence of grass tetany – a big killer across much of Southern Australia.  We surmise that the very heavy hide and thick coat of the Luing makes them more resistant to weather stress than thinner-skinned breeds.  The same ‘overcoat’ also helps to conserve body heat, meaning in cold conditions less feed is needed for converting to heat energy so more of the food intake is available for productive purposes.

  British Milk Marketing Board trials showed the Luing Cow to be the most efficient of all breeds trialled, ie Luing cows weaned the greatest weight of calf per kg of cow exposed (ie cow mated).  Our experience with them confirms their excellent mothering capabilities.

2.     Carcasses – Our steers and heifers have shown consistently higher slaughter weights since the introduction of the Luings.  In two consecutive years we exhibited three steers, one in the first and two in the second year, in the Carcass Competition run by the Royal National Show Society of Launceston, for 1 blue ribbon and 1 red ribbon.  The two-tooth steer we exhibited was the heaviest British breed steer in his class.  All these steers we fattened solely on grass and had never had hand feeding in their lives.  In 1979 a ¾ Luing steer won Grand Champion Carcass at the pacific National Exhibition, Vancouver Canada.  A pen of 5 Luing cross steers awarded “Champion pen of feeder steers” at ‘Round up 79’, Calgary, Canada.

It is interesting to note that in the UK they suffer from heat stress when fed in barns during Winter!  A claim made by UK breeders is that they will continue to grow in a feedlot without putting on excessive subcutaneous fat.  We cannot recall being penalized for over fat steers.  We have no experience with grain feeding here, but Victorian breeders sold steers  to Charlton Feedlot, which performed very well, and Charlton had indicated that they would buy all that could be supplied.  They appear to marble well.

  3.     Calving – We have found the Luing calves are great survivors – our calving percentages have consistently been better than in pre-Luing days.  The Luing calves are typically small but very active, alert and agile with a great will to live.  In twelve years of calving Luing heifers I can only recall assisting 3 heifers to calve, and one of those was a breech birth.  We usually calve between 30-50 heifers a year, starting calving at 23 months of age.  In pre-Luing days we would have assisted more than that nearly every year.

Our current semen supplier, Dr R B (Bob) Church from Canada told me the year before last nearly all his bulls had been sold as weaners and nearly all had gone for use over first calvers – obviously the Canadians appreciate their easy calving attributes.  He also said their best commercial cows were half Luing, quarter Hereford and quarter Simmental, growing out to 1400-1600Lb (they still speak English!) – a fair lump of a cow!  In 1974 a Luing bull sold for $23 000 at Calgary bull sale.

It is also worth remembering the words of well-known Australian geneticist, Professor Butterfield “A dead calf has a distressingly poor growth rate”!

The two most important economic factors in the cow/calf enterprise are cow survival and calving percentage – the Luing excels in both spheres.

Several years ago we had a visit from Ray Oliver, a New Zealand Luing breeder and he told us of his first experience with the breed.  Roger James (who introduced the breed to NZ) had persuaded Ray to inseminate some cows, so he had 10shorthorn cows, 5 with shorthorn calves and 5 with Luing calves, in a small hedge bordered paddock adjacent to his home.  Getting up one morning he found they had had a very heavy overnight fall of snow, followed by a frozen fog, giving a complete whiteout.  He set out to feed the cattle, following the hedge with his tractor.  The cows and the 5 shorthorn calves were found backed into the hedge with their backs humped and looking pretty miserable.  He fed them and thought “so much for Roger and his Luings!’.  Anyway he thought he’d better see if he could find the 5 calves and possibly he could save one or two.  Driving slowly down the hedge to the bottom of the paddock he was amazed to find the 5 Luing calves playing ‘ring-a-rosy’ around a gorse bush and having the time of their lives!  Ray’s been a breed enthusiast ever since.

Following is an extract from the kill sheet of some steers we sent.  These steers were completely grass fed from birth to market and their approximate age was 27 months.  Note that there were no fat penalties incurred.

KILL DATE: 21 JAN 2005

M 4 20 EUM 303.5
M 4 11 A4M 308.5
M 2 10 EUM 299.5
M 2 21 A3M 354
M 4 18 EUM 286
M 4 11 EUM 306
M 2 25 EUM 314.5
M 2 11 EUM 301
M 4 11 EUM 301
M 2 15 A4M 302
M 4 29 EUM 330.5
M 2 15 EUM 335.5
M 4 15 A3M 342
M 4 6 EUM 307.5
M 2 18 EUM 334.5
M 2 15 EUM 312
M 2 19 EUM 314.5
M 4 20 A3M 349
M 2 20 EUM 321.5
M 2 16 EUM 315
M 4 20 EUM 301.5
M 2 10 A4M 311
M 2 10 A4M 299
M 2 10 EUM 315.5
M 2 20 EUM 306
M 4 20 EUM 300.5
M 2 10 EUM 268.5
M 2 15 EUM 296
M 2 9 EUM 310
M 2 10 A4M 332
M 2 16 A3M 350.5
M 2 15 EUM 308.5
M 4 17 EUM 328
M 2 10 EUM 304.5
M 2 15 EUM 310.5





About “Benbullen”


  The property of approximately 3000 acres is in the foothills of the NE mountains of Tasmania, East of Mt Barrow and North of Ben Lomond, elevation is from 1800ft to 2300 ft, and rainfall approximately 55-60 inches per year.  Soils are grey loam (of granite origin) and red basalt (kraznozem).  We have running water in most parts of the property (most runs you can catch a trout if you have time!).  Winters are long and hard – summers cool and mild with grass growing in most years from October to May.

Our cattle herd consists of approximately 200 breeders, with steers and surplus heifers fattened and sold between 18 months – 27 months, just a few tail end steers carried over and sold the following summer.  Our purebred herd is run exactly the same as our commercial cattle (sometimes run even harder!) .  Our main object with the purebreds is to breed our own bulls, and secondly to sell a few good surplus bulls.  The whole emphasis is on cattle that will be good commercial money earners.

We first used Scottish semen but, with the Australian supplies all used up and the BSE ban on further UK imports, we had to source semen from elsewhere.  We eventually found a source in Canada and the bulls we now have to offer are the offspring of Canadian semen – now with the second bull, Rothney Grand 53G and we are now looking for another.


We now have calves sired by Lochend Redtop 58P on the ground and looking good



In brief

Luings can thrive where others survive – they can survive where others don’t!

Luings are probably the easiest calvers of the available commercial breeds

Luings have demonstrated to us a high level of grass tetany resistance.

Luings have excellent temperaments

Luings are excellent mothers

Luings cross very well with all commercial breeds in use in Australia

 Luings produce excellent finished carcasses, whether you are producing local trade cattle or  exporters

 Luings are sexually mature early – no problems mating at 14 months

 Luings are bred for the environment found in much of the premier cattle breeding areas of  Southern Australia

 Luings were one of the few commercial breeds being exported in substantial numbers to the Continent before the BSE ban on UK exports.  NOTE:  BSE has never been found in Luings.

  The two most important factors affecting cow/calf profitability are the percentage of calves weaned per cow exposed, and weight of calf weaned per cow exposed.  The Luing excels in both.

The two most important factors affecting cow/calf profitability are the percentage of calves weaned per cow exposed, and weight of calf weaned per cow exposed.  The Luing excels in both.