BEEF farmers Jeanette and Peter Stebbins farm for love.
The couple moved six years ago to their Princeton property, west of Lavers Hill, to escape the drought in Northern Victoria.
They established Ardrossan Lowline Stud – a stud dedicated to Australian lowline cattle.
“It’s a love, you have to like what you’re doing,” Mrs Stebbins said.
“It’s the challenge, because we were the first with this breed in Victoria and we’re foundation members – there were a group of 10 of us that started it off in Australia back in ’92,” she said.
Mrs Stebbins said she was attracted to the breed’s manageability, viability and suitability to small properties.
“We believed in them, there’s the small-acreage famer, but also the temperament of the animal is so great that they’ve got a relaxed muscle and the meat is really tender and the cuts of meat are smaller.”
The Stebbinses, who are members of Colac district’s Better Beef network, started with just two lowline females in calf and built up their herd with the introduction of embryo transfer.
“That’s how we were able to increase our two and also sell to people; we sold the pregnant recipients, Mrs Stebbins said.”
It was clear there was going to be a demand for the cattle when the Stebbinses began selling.
They have sold to China, Canada, Italy, Thailand and New Zealand in the years since they began their stud.
But it is the demand from American buyers that has been the greatest accomplishment for the husband and wife, who travel to America every year to meet with their Minnesota business partner, Gary Gilbert.
“We work together, we’ve sent cattle over to him, we’ve flushed them over there, we’ve sent bulls over, we’ve collected those and sold semen over there,” Mrs Stebbins told the Colac Herald.
“That’s what we concentrate on – our main business is our American business. We’re breeding here so that we can sell something different in America.”
Mrs Stebbins said the business also worked to an Australian market with stud stock sales and leasing bulls to dairy farmers.
The couple have also started selling beef, mostly though “word of mouth”.
“We haven’t been doing it for long and it was only this last fortnight that we’ve decided to advertise,” Mr Stebbins said.
“And people have bought our beef and then come back and bought the steers and then come back and bought the bulls to put with their cows to then produce their own steers,” Mrs Stebbins said.
Mrs Stebbins said she “never stops wondering” about the success and growth of the lowline business.
“I do spend a lot of time marketing and a lot of time in the office, but if you’re going to do it, you’ve got to do it properly,” she said.