CASA AGRÍCOLA MEXIA CASTELO BRANCO
THE OLDEST PRODUCER LIMOUSINE OF PORTUGAL
The key promotor of the Casa Agricola, was Mr. João Garcia Nunes Mexia, an agronomist by the Agricultural Faculty of Lisbon, the President of the Portuguese Central Agricultural Society between 1930 and 1940, the President of the Portuguese Agricultural Scientific Society in 1942 and the President of the Livestock Products Board, between 1939/1945.
He was one of the first silviculturists who graduated under a thesis concerning the cork oak forest in 1934, and who was also assigned to attend the International Cork Conference.
THE INTRODUCTION OF THE LIMOUSINE BREED IN PORTUGAL
The Limousine breed was first introduced in Portugal by the Casa Agricola (Farming House) Praça Mexia (Mexia Castelo Branco at present), by both Mr. Nunes Mexia and Mr. Raul Mineiro.
Both gentlemen have actually imported the first core of Limousine breed ever known in Portugal. As far as the French exporters were concerned, theirs was also the first experience as such.
One of these breeders’ key motivations, aimed at the production of breeding livestock and involved the industrial breed crossing among the latter.
Back in those years, the core herd included ten cows and one bull, located at Terras da Ribeira farm, near Benavente.
All the livestock surplus, was due to be sold on a yearly basis. The main buyers originated from southern Portugal, mainly from the Algarve area, where the Limousine eventually prevailed over the majority of breeds,
The pursuit of a pure trendline has been the continuing policy of the Limousine livestock production at the Casa Agrícola, since 1953 and it therefore involves, its regular renewal.
THE EIGHTIES: A NEW ERA
Following the restructuring of the Casa Agrícola in 1980, the cow herd was transferred, to this day, to the Carias farm in Arraiolos. In 1985 Mr. António Castelo Branco, also an agronomist and the son-in-law of Mr. Nunes Mexia, has taken the administration over.
A pragmatist himself as far as managing procedures were concerned and deeply connected to the banking sector, Mr. Castelo Branco’s resolve was meant to preserve and enhance the cow herd, considering how financially interesting this activity eventually turned out to be.
It was only natural for the Casa Agricola to lead the establishment of the Limousine Breed Association, which actually included a vast movement of breeders. Mr. Castelo Branco was one of the founding members of the above-mentioned Association, becoming Chairman of its General Assembly.
It was still during the eighties and to this day, that the Casa Agricola became to be known as Mexia Castelo Branco. It is at present, run by the family’s third generation, whose members embrace their legacy and inherited values, wholeheartedly.
The quality of our herd, reflects the perfect blend of both the original genetics and the quality of the animal management and it is undeniable due, to the long term contribution of both Mr. Joaquim Bexiga and Mr. Guilhermino Pinto who is, at present, the coordinator of the livestock sector, at the Casa Agricola Mexia Castelo Branco.
At present, the limousine herd core at the Carias Farm, amounts to 140 purebred suckler cows which operate within an extensive livestock farming system and benefit from both the natural conditions of the farm and its excellent grazing. An average number of 40 to 50 calves is sold on an yearly basis, for breeding purposes. Being country bred allows for huge adaptation skills, within different environments. These calves stand for the key success factors, as far as the development of the cow herd of this specific area is concerned.