We calve in Autumn following experimentation in our early years. This means the cows are dry during the hot summer months at Forbes, calve onto freshly growing pastures (hopefully), and rear their calves over Winter and Spring on growing pastures. We can then wean the calves onto highly nutritious mature/seeding pastures in November.
located between Forbes and Grenfell in Central West NSW, our Winters are cold and frosty, our summers are hot and our rainfall is variable and spread over the year. Thus our cattle need to be good doers who can keep a bit of fat on their back as fertility is the number one profit driver. We calve tightly and cull empties.
Below is our Breeding Program but note with many traits being antagonistic it will always be a work in progress. The Breeding Indices are very good but we like to control the various components that are important to us.
BREEDING OBJECTIVE ONE – CALVING EASE
- POSITIVE EBV FOR BOTH DIRECT AND DAUGHTERS
- BIRTH WEIGHT ANGUS<+6, MURRAY GREY <5
BREEDING OBJECTIVE TWO – FERTILITY
- SCROTAL SIZE ABOVE AVERAGE PLUS ACTUAL GREATER THAN 37 cm
- P8 RIB FAT – ANGUS +1.5, MURRAY GREY +1.1
BREEDING OBJECTIVE THREE – MILK
- ADEQUATE MILK TO RAISE A SAPPY CALF BUT NOT DRAIN THE COW THUS AFFECTING FERTILITY SO BREED AVERAGE
- ANGUS +15, MURRAY GREY +4
BREEDING OBJECTIVE FOUR – COW SIZE
- WE DO NOT WANT EITHER SMALL EARLY MATURING OR LARGE LATE MATURING COWS
- 600 DAY WEIGHTS TOP 20% – ANGUS +117, MURRAY GREY +64
- MATURE COW WEIGHT SAME AS 600 DAY WEIGHT
- CLASS FOR FRAME SCORE 5.5 – 6
We prefer to only carry our breeding females and sale bulls over winter and so we send our yearling steers and cull heifers in late Autumn to TEYS Australia Jindalee Feedlot which is 145 kms away. There they go on feed for 100 days. TEYS Riverina Premium Beef Brand is their highest quality and so we are working to have as many of our animals as possible comply with that. A number of our clients also aim at TEYS Brands including Grasslands Pasturefed Standard and these characteristics also suit that.
BREEDING OBJECTIVE FIVE – CARCASE WEIGHTS BETWEEN 370 kg and 400 kg
- TOP 10% so ANGUS +72, MURRAY GREY +43
BREEDING OBJECTIVE SIX – AUSMEAT MARBLE SCORE
- REQUIRE 2 FOR PREMIUM BRAND SO IMF FOR ANGUS 1.8, MURRAY GREY +1.00
BREEDING OBJECTIVE SEVEN – SALEABLE MEAT YIELD
- P8 FAT 12 – 20 MM SO ANGUS +1.5, MURRAY GREY +1.1
- EMA Area 74 square cm SO ANGUS +4.6, MURRAY GREY +2.0
BREEDING OBJECTIVE EIGHT – $ INDICES
- ANGUS BREEDING INDEX TOP 10% $133
- ANGUS HEAVY GRASS INDEX TOP 10% $126
- MURRAY GREY HEAVY GRASS INDEX TOP 10% $68 (no Index to suit the Marbeling requirements of 2)
Some may wonder about not aiming higher for EMA but it is antagonistic to IMF marbeling and vice versa. To fit the brand we need 2 for marble and 74 for EMA no more and this is not easy to achieve.
Further expansion of our program and things we consider important are listed below;
Temperament: We cull any animal that concerns us for both our own and our clients safety. Clients should be able to inspect bulls in the yards calmly.
- Females calve at two years old
- Aim for every female to have a live calf at foot every year unassisted over 3 cycles. Our calving histogram has 13% early 47% calving on the first cycle, 29% on the second and 12% on the third which is good
- Aim for female fats to be above average especially if they have a higher mature cow weight or milk than average.
- Above breed average Scrotal Size as this is important for both male and female fertility.
- Negative Gestation Length very helpful
- Birthweights both actual and EBV monitored carefully
- Well laid in shoulders (not pointy)
- Good neck extension
- Do not mind dropped pins to an extent as good for calving ease (think of tropical breeds run extensively) although we do not actively seek this.
- To assist with our culling decisions, we have for many years had our yearlings independently assessed by an accredited assessor culling any animal that is not suitable for seedstock production (includes feet, legs, naval/pizzle, jaws)
- Vet checks pelvic area for both heifers and bulls – we cull any that are flagged as a bit tight.
- Udder well supported with nicely sized teats and prefer dark skin
- Maintain our herd between 5.5 and 6 frame size
- Aim to keep EMA above average
- Aim to keep fats including especially IMF above average
- B/C muscle where possible but not at expense of fats for females
- Aim for above average weight and ebv’s especially 400 and 600.
- Mature Cow Weight around breed average but like to be equal to or less than 600 day weight
- Milk figure around average keeping in mind cows may struggle to rejoin if heavy milkers in a hard year. Milk is not highly heritable and so EBV less accurate.
- Broad muzzle
- Hooded eyes
- Short, smooth, soft coat
- Thick long tail (strong spine)
- Straight topline (do not mind dropped pins to an extent as good for calving ease), do not tolerate weakness behind shoulders
- Deep body and hindquarter
- Good skin pigment and dark hooves in Silver/Grey animals (we join grey x silver to assist with this).
- Genetic diversity using tools such as Sire Select and Matesel – under 5% is the aim. Also attention to pedigrees and known successful combinations.
- Genetic faults/diseases – strategic testing to prevent carrier aimals. Ensure sires free Red gene.
When all of these things align the $ indices go up also but we certainly like to have them in the top 20%.