Home' Smart Farmer : February 2011 Contents February 2011
By ALISTAIR LAWSON
EN and Julie Sieben moved
to their property, Argyle
Park, just outside Mount
Pleasant at the start of 2002. They
were looking for a suitable farming
option and it was Blonde
d'Aquitaine cattle that ticked all the
After initially flirting with the idea
of grape growing as well as looking
at farming sheep, goats or alpacas,
the Siebens decided that beef cattle
were their best option.
"With grape growing, the future
was murky so we thought it was too
risky financially," Ken said.
"So it came down to beef cattle.
We thought about buying in calves,
fattening them up and selling them
but then realised we weren't going
to cover the costs of the farm by
"It needed to be a stud property."
Since Ken or Julie were not from a
beef-breeding background, they
held no prejudices about breeds,
which Ken said helped when it
came to choosing Blondes.
"We were weighing up our
options for different breeds, looking
at potential and demand," he said.
"In the end it was Blondes that
appealed. At the time there were
only a few around and the breed
had so much to offer."
One of the big factors in choos-
ing Blonde cattle was their docile
nature, which was just right for the
"They're ideal on the land that
we've got," Ken said.
"They're very easy on fences. The
most trouble we have with fences is
trees falling on them."
Another advantage of running a
Blonde stud is ease of calving.
"There's a perception that
because Blondes are quite muscly
they will have calving problems,
but that's just not true," he said.
"The configuration of the calves
is different to the British breeds.
They're long and thin but still have
a good birth weight."
"Neither Julie or I have wit-
nessed a delivery in three years. No
matter how often we check on
pregnant cows, the calves just
seem to pop out."
Ken said that the vet expenses
for Blondes are also another posi-
tive of the breed.
"The vet expenses are minimal.
We hardly have any trouble with
sickness or injury," he said.
"It's a very small percentage of
The Siebens set about producing
their first herd of Blondes in 2003
after buying a bull from another
Blonde stud in Victoria, with their
first calves dropping in 2004.
Recently though, the Siebens
have bought six Murray Grey cows
with calves at foot in an effort to
try and get local beef producers to
"We're going to produce Blonde-
Murray Grey crosses as a market-
ing exercise to try and demonstrate
the advantage of Blondes," Ken
"A lot of beef producers tend to
be fairly conservative when it
comes to cattle and breed just what
the previous generation did.
"We bought in the Greys to show
everybody that it's not just a story
that Blondes are a quality animal --
I'm putting my money where my
Ken believes the market for
Blondes is set to grow substantially
in the coming years and that they
are in a good position to take
advantage of the market when
more demand hits.
"Blondes are the fastest growing
breed internationally and they are
going to take off in Australia even-
tually, we just need to establish
demand," he said.
"In Europe you won't find any-
thing other than Blonde beef in the
"We will be at the head of the
queue when the ice does break in
• Need to know more?
Ken Sieben runs Blonde d'Aquitaine stud Argyle Park, Mt
Pleasant, and says Blondes best suit his small-size farm.
Fastest growing breed
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