Colombia is a country at the northern tip of South America, predominantly in the Northern Hemisphere and shares a border with Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Panama and Brazil. The Andes mountain range runs up this continent and splits into 3 ranges in Colombia, and as a result we spent most of our holiday at a height of nearly 3000 metres! And this dramatic country has a coastline running into the Pacific and Caribbean. It is second only to Brazil regarding population and has the 4th biggest land mass in South America. It is self sufficent in food and is easily within the top 10 countries in the world for rainfall.
Their capitol city Bogota is on a plateau at nearly 2300 metres, where you are immediately aware than the air is thinner and you are forced into a slower, holiday pace! Bogota is in the centre of the country due to the historic search for gold, and the settlers seeking a more temperate climate. Today's Bogota is a capitol city worthy of the name, with attractive, well maintained architecture, high end cosmopolitan cuisine and great shopping; an extremely clean and well run city. Modern Colombia is setting out it's stall to welcome tourists and we were treated to a jewel of a journey around part of it with the Pineros/Restrepo family!
Our road trip could have doubled as an advert for Jaguar Land Rover, indeed the dealership was one block down from our flat in Bogota: a range rover, an Evoque and the iconic Defender set out to see Dunlouise genetics at work in the Andes at Antonio's Tierraleja and Tamala farms. The joke locally was that having never seen Angus at work below 1000 metres, Colombians wondered if they would survive! At the farm we saw strip grazing at work, where fences are moved daily on horseback to move the cattles onto clean pasture, reduce the impact of the grazing and to make most efficient use of a totally grass based system. There are approximately 20 million cattle in Colombia, with 90% either Brahman or Zebu. 50 thousand of these have Angus influence, with less than 2000 being pure Angus. This family now have their own brand of been called Angus Azul, with it's distinctive blue packaging which can be seen in many supermarket chains, predominantly an Angus cross and is excellent beef. Brangus beef is traditionally 63:37 Angus to Brahman. Without doubt we were treated to not only an exceptional picnic lunch overlooking our joint genetics, but the most exquisite setting! Judge for yourselves; we will let the pictures do the talking. Some of these cattle include genetics from Dunlouise Jipsey Earl, Cortachy Boy and Excalibur.
A drive into the Tatacoa desert, to discreetly hidden Bethel luxury glamping was a highlight for me, on one of Colombia's many plateaus with the backdrop of the Andes mountains; vivid colours of the stunning wind created rock formations on the this vast plateau of burning heat. The incongruous setting of wild untamed desert in all its natural glory contrasted bizarrely with deliberately osetentatious furniture more resembling a Tarantino film! Casual care had been taken with softly billowing drapes to shelter you from the intense sun and set the scene for this remote tranquil experience; where the Flintstones meet Laurence of Arabia ?! The individual teepees were well spaced out and with their structures only having 3 sides you woke looking onto the magical formations of the desert! Two swimming pools and a bar topped off with a first class restaurant.
Northern Colombia's constant warm climate and high rainfall means it is one of the bread baskets of South America, growing cocoa, beef, oil, flowers, rice and coffee for export and they are also still mining emeralds. Colombian farmers enjoy several crops a year as they have such a long growing season. And Colombia is changing, from a country torn by civil war and endless bad press for the drug trade that fuelled it. Colombians want peace and are working hard to improve their infrastructure to showcase the beauty of their country. Bogota is planning an over ground system to ease traffic congestion, expansion and upgrading of rural roads is currently underway, and with its vast variety or landscapes from the Caribbean Sea to the remote jungle in the mountains, Colombia is seriously setting out its stall as a desirable holiday destination.
There were lots of 'firsts' on this trip, including drinking their 'aromatic tea' which was steeped in fresh mint leaves and lemon grass. And as every good holiday should, a trip to the nail parlour at the start and end!
Thank you to the Pineros and Restrepo families for one of our best holidays yet! You guys were generous hosts and great travelling companions. It was all really rather nice.
Tierraleja Aberdeen-Angus, from Colombia since 1889, now in to the future with Dunlouise native genetics. It´s awesome!
Our Experience with Dunlouise Native Aberdeen-Angus genetics in Tierraleja Aberdeen-Angus at Colombia, South America.
I belong to the family of entrepreneurs and cattle breeders who imported the first Aberdeen-Angus cattle from Scotland to Colombia in 1889.
In the 50´s and 60´s our grandfather refreshed his herds with genetics and live animals imported from Canada.
By then, the native Aberdeen-Angus in Colombia had already made local fame
for their rusticity, maternal ability and beef quality. From the date of the first imports there had been some unavoidable percentage of line breeding and quite possibly some accidental inbreeding. Fact is there are no records or testimony of the appearance of horns, spots, color deviations or degeneration of the animals in the herds. This mere fact strongly convinced me of the solidity and stability of the original native Aberdeen-Angus pure breed. Being a country with the majority of its land in lowland tropical areas, Aberdeen-Angus had become my grand fathers favourite breed to cross with his Brahma cows in an attempt to improve beef quality and maternal ability of his lowland tropical Bos Indicus herds.
When I got involved in the cattle operation with my own farm I found myself in dire straits trying to conserve and expand the original native Aberdeen-Angus characteristics we were used to, and became somewhat frustrated when searching for fresh genetics, only finding the then conventional established larger Angus New Types developed in Canada and U.S. I visited the cattle ranches, auctions and shows in Argentina finding a few cases of cattle men who showed me animals somewhat similar to the original Scottish natives, but looking (then) to make them bigger.
In 2006 I visited Scotland in an attempt to investigate and locate the origins of my great grandfathers herds and hoping that I would find the sources of the cattle he first imported to Colombia. Revising the export records available in the old books at the Aberdeen-Angus Society in Perth. I was able to identify some entries that declare exports to South America in 1889. These were traced to origins in Ballindalloch. Rushed there and found their herd had no apparent difference from the ones I had seen in USA and Canada. Disappointment and frustration again were becoming common as I was exposed to the fact that most Scottish and British cattlemen had given in to the economic pressure of the prevailing establishment and had allowed their herds to grow in size with the use of genetics of "improved" and enlarged animals from America.
Responding to my annoying insistence in the matter, Mr. Bob Anderson, (whom I can´t thank enough), the secretary at the AAS at the time, told me about Geordie and Julia Soutar and the native Aberdeen-Angus at Kingston Farm. Sure enough, when I arrived there, I was immediately taken by the type of animals Geordie showed me. There they were, in real life, the cows and bulls that looked like the descriptions and old pictures I had known in my childhood. With no time to spare I began using Dunlouise genetics on my cows. The result has certainly been a quantifiable improvement in size moderation, maternal ability and beef marbling. Today, over 300 hundred of our cows and all our working bulls have the Dunlouise genetics influence and we will continue to work with it, ever increasing the percentage of their presence in our herd.
Yes, I have a responsibility to run a profitable registered cattle operation, but furthermore, having seen the light, I have the paramount responsibility to leave behind a cattle breed well adapted to our environment, a breed of functional cows and bulls that represent the possibility of a sustainable and economically viable cattle future for my country.
Antonio José Piñeros
Fourth generation Aberdeen-Angus breeder in Colombia.