The British Limousin Cattle Society has announced that the rising year-old Limousin bull Grange Gervaise, from the noted Grange Herd of Northamptonshire breeders George & Steven Smith, Brookfield Farm, London Road, Daventry, has been sold to the “Les 4 Limousins” breeders’ consortium in Le Verdeau, Saint Just Le Martel, France. Les 4 Limousins is a partnership of the French breeders Earl Lasternas, Saint Cyr Les Champagnes; Earl Geraud, Juillac; and Earl Bonnet, Moulin de Gratoulet, Chateau Cervix. The sale to the Les 4 Limousins group was conducted through Gilles Lequeux and Sophie Mournetas of Interlim Genetique Service, the marketing co-operative of the French Limousin Herdbook.
In what is a landmark export, it is believed that this is the first time a British-bred Limousin bull has been sold back to the Limousin breed’s country of origin. Limousin cattle were first imported to the United Kingdom from France in 1971 with the breed and Society celebrating its 40th anniversary in the UK last year.
The Grange Limousin Herd, run by George & Beth Smith, together with son Steven, was itself established some 36 years ago and comprises of sixty breeding females. In that time, the Smith Family have concentrated on a balance of selecting high conformation animals along with the introduction of new bloodlines from France. Working closely with the French Limousin Herdbook, the Smiths have sought to identify new and up-and-coming bloodlines with the aim of improving the Grange Herd and at the same time widening the genetic Limousin base within the UK. This unique connectivity of the best of British and French genetics has resulted in this historic first sale back to France and to what is hoped to be a developing export market for British Limousin genetics.
February 2011 born, Grange Gervaise has a depth of breeding being by the French imported bull Chabal and out of the homebred Grange Cascade. Purchased in November 2008, Chabal was one of the highest performing bulls within his group at the renowned Lanaud Limousin Bull Testing Station in France where he gained exceptionally high scores for muscular development, skeletal development, functional capacity and breed characteristics. Grange Cascade is by the herd’s successful stock bull Perit B whose pedigree combines some of the breed’s most noted bloodlines in the form of Ideal 23, Duvalier and Don Juan, a former Paris Show Champion. Grange Cascade’s great grand dam, Grange Juniata, was also the Pedigree Heifer Champion when shown at the Royal Smithfield Show in 1994.
Grange Gervaise was initially spotted by Gilles Lequeux of Interlim Service Genetique when he was viewing the herd during a visit to the UK in July of last year. Impressed with the then five-month-old bull’s conformation, length and growth, M. Lequeux subsequently closely followed the bull’s progress. Having recommended the bull to the Les 4 Limousins group, the sale was agreed in November 2011. Since then the bull has continued to progress and at 333 days of age was weighed at 660kgs. Following the necessary paperwork, Grange Gervaise was loaded up and exported to France on Monday 23rd January. Upon arrival, the immediate feedback from the French breeders is that the bull has a lot of volume, has very good width of pelvis, very good legs and the style to produce future breeding cows!
Previously the Grange herd has sold pedigree Limousins to many countries including the USA, Zimbabwe, the Azores, and both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Commenting on the sale, Steven Smith said: “Grange Gervaise is one of the best bulls we have bred. France is obviously the home of the breed and to make a sale to there is perhaps the ultimate achievement for the herd. We are thrilled with the sale and look forward to seeing how the bull progresses.”
BLCS Chief Executive Iain Kerr warmly congratulated the Smiths and commented: “This is a historic and timely export sale. Selling British-bred stock back to France is a good news story for the Smiths, the British Limousin breed, and the UK livestock industry,” he said. “British Limousin breeders have built a unique British brand but have continued to selectively import to expand the genetic base and diversity of the British herdbook. The Smiths have typified this and have developed a high class herd built around cattle with breed character, power, length, and milk.”
The Grange Herd maintains a strong customer base in the UK. In September 2011, the herd held an on-farm sale that saw two lots top the sale at 18,000gns apiece with 62 lots in all selling for just under £220,000.