British Limousin is the largest numerical beef breed in the United Kingdom accounting for 28% of the 1.7 million cattle registered with the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS). It has held this position since BCMS was established in 1996.
Each year approximately 500,000 Limousin-sired cattle (2014 = 484,381) are registered representing an annual industry value of around £600 million. It is further estimated that some 75% of all beef cattle in the UK carry a percentage of Limousin genetics.
In the nineteen years since BCMS was first established, over 11 million calves (11,327,773), sired by Limousin bulls, have been registered.
Limousin is the leading numerical beef breed in each of the four home nations.
These figures come on the back of what was a very successful year for the Limousin breed and British Limousin Cattle Society. Highlights from 2014:
- In the course of 2014, BLCS sales of pedigree Limousin cattle grossed over £6.6 Million an increase of £1 Million on the year.
- Over 19,000 pedigree calves were also registered by the Society’s 2,800 breeder members – the fifth straight year that the 19,000 barrier has been broken.
- Limousin heifer Glenrock Illusion from Stephen & Helen Illingworth, Lockerbie, Dumfries sold for a Limousin world record, and UK & European all-breeds record of 125,000gns
- The highest price bull came in the form of the 55,000gns Aultside Hulk from Garry Patterson, Aultmore, Keith, Banffshire.
- At the summer 2014 ‘Royal’ show majors, pedigree Limousin cattle secured 14 interbreed wins at the Royal Ulster, Royal Highland, Great Yorkshire, and Royal Welsh Shows
- Commercially-relevant Limousin cattle also enjoyed a memorable year in the show ring with the breed winning a “Super Six” of titles at the 2014 Winter Primestock events. Limousin sired cattle win six out of the seven “major” primestocks and Pedigree Limousins won the Supreme Championships at the English & Royal Welsh Winter Fairs.
Ten year breed improvement plan:
In 2014 the BLCS announced a progressive and long-range Breed Improvement Plan. The plan will see an investment of more than £1 Million by the BLCS. The estimated improvement in performance and genetics delivered through the plan could be worth an extra £50 Million per annum to commercial producers using Limousin cattle. The breeding goals outlined include:
- Solutions to identify and improve feed efficiency
- Improving the rate of gain in growth and carcase traits
- Improving cow production efficiency and maternal traits
First imported into the United Kingdom from France in 1971, the Limousin breed has built its reputation on being ‘The Carcase Breed’, a breed able to produce quality beef with a low proportion of bone and fat. Its influence on British Beef production has been borne through its advantages in calving ease, growth, milk, fertility, feed efficiency, killing-out percentage and meat yield.
The Limousin’s ability to produce ½ bred and ¾ bred carcases with excellent conformation, a top killing out percentage and a top yield of saleable meat (73.3%) make it well suited to the market needs of a consistent, quality beef product. An early maturing breed, the Limousin provides young but mature beef in the medium weight range demanded both by butchers and supermarkets.
Limousin bulls are known for their fleshing qualities, lighter bone, fertility, and for the extra conformation they pass to all progeny, whatever the dam. Limousin suckler cows can be found on both upland and lowland systems. They are renowned for ease of calving and ease of management, vital factors in today’s farming economy. A good milking ability and excellent fertility is complemented by a natural hardiness and thriftiness.
The British Limousin story is a remarkable one that the breed can tell over 45 years in the United Kingdom. From the initial import application to the UK Ministry made back in the 1960s, followed by the few pioneers importing those first 178 cattle, the breed – which was largely unknown to UK farmers – has now become the foremost in the country and is the industry benchmark for beef producers.
How has this happened? There are so many factors, breed pioneers and leaders, Society Councils and Chairmen have all played their parts, but mainly it is the quality of the breed, in harness with the commercial producers focussed on profit, who have driven this success. We all have come to know the attributes of the Limousin during this period; a breed unique in the beef industry, perfectly suitable for the suckler producer, easy calved, good liveability with good growth; for the finisher, easy fleshed with good conformation and good feed conversion; for the meat processor, so versatile with excellent meat yields; and for the retailer, lean beef with a fine tender grain.