Rare beef breed put on block
NZ’s only braunvieh?
Colin Lyon hopes someone with the same passion as himself will take his rare Swiss breed of beef cattle to bigger things.
His small herd of stud braunvieh beef breeding cows, which has twice reached the semifinals of the Steak of Origin contest, was begun by Lyon obtaining embryos from an Australian stud in 2005.
Lyon, now 71, feels beef breeding is a ‘‘young man’s caper’’ and would like to pass on the genetic line to someone else. The herd is for sale.
The braunviehs at his farm near South Canterbury’s Pleasant Point are believed to be the only cattle of their kind in New Zealand.
"I think they might have some genetic factors worth exploring or that would be good for beef in New Zealand."
Centuries ago in Switzerland the brown swiss was the milking cow and the braunvieh - meaning brown cow in German - was the beef line.
Lyon got into the breed after talking to a neighbour, who at one stage was considering buying a braunvieh farm in the United States, where they are popular for growth rates, meat marbling and feedlot qualities.
Intrigued, he found embryos could be obtained in Australia and implanted them in beef cows for his founding four heifers and two bulls. The bloodlines were later bolstered by Swiss semen.
Lyon said said most of the cattle had gone towards building a herd, but braunvieh crossed with angus had made tremendous eating and had twice reached the semifinal of the Steak of Origin, a competition to find the most tender and tasty sirloin steak.
"They naturally have more marbling than some of the traditional beef groups and they are quite nice to eat."
One of them dressed out to 70 per cent carcass weight. Another heifer recorded a liveweight of 500 kilograms as a yearling.
The herd is 16 mixed age cows, pregnancy tested to be in calf with a braunvieh bull; eight rising two- year-old heifers and nine rising one-year-old heifers as well as several breeding bulls.
He was unaware of any other cattle farmers with the mediumsized braunviehs.
TOP BEEF: Colin Lyon with one of his braunvieh cows he farms near Pleasant Point in South Canterbury.