When you have three cattle studs on one farm, run by three different family members, there is always room for some friendly rivalry, says Mary Anne Kane.
“When our son Peter was in his last year at school he made an aluminium trophy for the heaviest bull calf each year – so yes there is a fair bit of competition.”
The Kane’s farm ‘Westholm’ is a sizeable operation at Tapanui that has been in Mary Anne’s husband Robert Kane’s family since 1929.
Her “baby” is the Blue Mountain Angus stud she and Robert established in 1998, after buying an Angus heifer at the Black Magic sale and some pregnant recipients from Neil Sanderson’s Fossil Creek herd.
Robert runs the operation’s Westholm Polled Hereford Stud that was founded by his father Murray in 1964.
Peter Kane, the youngest of the couple’s three sons, is developing the KL1 Hereford stud that he established in 2008 with four Hereford cows, and a heifer and bull calf from the Leader dispersal.
Mary Anne says the family is looking forward to their annual bull sale on 28 May where they are offering 10 rising two year registered Blue Mountain Angus Bulls; 20 rising two year Westholm Polled Hereford Bulls; and five rising two year registered KL1 Hereford Bulls.
They have also invited Bruce Robertson to sell five Polled Hereford bulls from his Duncraigen herd at this year’s sale for “added interest”.
“I believe this is the best line we’ve offered for a long time. One of our Hereford bulls is entered in the South Island division of the Hereford Super Sires and we’re hoping he’ll make Beef Expo. On the Angus side, I won the Junior Yearling Angus Bull at the Christchurch show. I will put him up for sale but hope to be able to have him here for the optional tour of our farm during the World Angus Forum,” says Mary Anne.
Blue Mountain Angus stud usually has between 40 and 50 calves hitting the ground each year.
“We aim to take 10 bulls through to each autumn sale at 20 months, and supply a few bulls into the dairy industry as well.”
The Kanes aim for easy-going, sound and quiet animals, she says.
“I do all the calving, and weighing and tagging at birth, and believe me – a cow only chases me once. Angus cattle are inclined to get upset easily so if they show any signs of being uncooperative they are gone immediately.”
Hardiness is another attribute of the Blue Mountain stock, she says.
“People often think we live in an easy climate but we can be severely challenged here by the weather and feed. If it’s a wet winter or cold, miserable spring we can lose up to half our feed under six inches of mud. We also have a high stocking rate so the animals have to be tough.”
Since the original home farm ‘Westholm’ was purchased by Robert’s grandparents David and Nellie Kane, the family has acquired two neighbouring properties, ‘Burnfoot’ and ‘Pomahaka’ which today, are run as one enterprise.
Robert Kane’s parents, Murray and Joyce farmed the property before him and although retired, still live on the farm.
The couple’s eldest son Andrew runs his own business in Christchurch, with middle son Luke running and managing Westholm’s 600 cow dairy unit – the result of the 2010 conversion of the original home farm.
The remainder of the property is taken up with dairy support; the Kane’s cattle business; and 2000 head sheep operation.
“The next few weeks will be busy preparing for the bull sale. Around 80 potential buyers usually attend and we are particularly excited about the quality of stock we’re presenting to them this year,” says Mary Anne.