Over the last few years we have loudly shared our breeding purpose. We believe in Carcase Data, We believe in EBV’s and we believe in sharing and recording all of them. We believe in strong structural soundness, we believe in Genetics. We believe in transparency of the Angus breed and we believe in the NZ Beef Industry building to match worldwide trends.
There has been a method to our madness and now 4 years in we are seeing the results. In the paddock and in the pocket.
The technology isn’t lying, our EBV’s are being proved accurate with technology like i50k through Zoetis. The genetic gains are now visual and being communicated back to us from the works. Those who have closely watched the Bulls on offer for sale for the last few years can see the changes. We are by no means there yet, but we are well on our way. We are not aiming for something radical but a nice balancing of EBV traits within the percentile bands and well performing, structurally sound hill country cattle.
So why the big change?
Every year, Patrick and a cohort of other likeminded Angus Breeders head to the United States of America to look at the best Genetics to import into NZ to achieve the desired results within their herds. In 2012 Patrick visited a feedlot in Kansas (don’t let the word feedlot put you off as the cows were on consignment). US trends showed that the cow herd was down to the same numbers as 1953 yet the poundage of meat produced was at present day levels, keeping up with consumer demands. How did they do it? The answer is Genomics. Obtaining genetic data, using EPD (US equivalent to EBV) information to inform mating decisions. Collecting and utilising available genetically tested and correct information. By doing that, focussing on firstly Calving Ease, you need a live calf, with Carcase weight, Fats and Marbling (IMF) as selection tools beef animals are becoming more productive and therefore more profitable.
Not only is it about more meat (carcase weight) it’s about better quality meat for the best possible eating experience. Marbling or IMF is the trait to do this.
“If I bred strictly for good-looking sires and neglected the data, we would be missing out big on premiums” Reiss Bruning, Nebraskan Angus Breeder, Angus Journal May 2016.
Yes this this is the US but it was the light bulb moment. The same opportunities are here in NZ where the quality cuts and bigger yields (higher carcase wright EBV trait scores) will receive the premiums. That’s where we want not only ourselves but our customers to be, reaping the rewards of money in the pocket and top quality cuts at the table.
How did we do it?
Since 2012 carefully selected US Genetics have been imported (after meeting structural requirements) and have been AI’d to herd females to produce the BEST progeny. As stud breeders we have the technology avaliable to assist on balancing EBV’s. It helps enormously that Robbie knows the cow herd in and out.
Robbie and Patrick do not pick out 1 trait and inject those genetics into our herd. All potential sires have to meet our own selection criteria across all EBV traits and fit the phenotype of our cattle.
How do we know we are on the right track?
We have been collecting as much information as we can. Using i50k technology to give accuracy to EBV’s, yield information from Universal Beef Packers in Te Kuiti and accurate trait recording across EBV’s including EMA and IMF scanning by Mr Bill Austin.
When we begin to start comparing this information we can see the choices are working for us. We are not perfect, and not every decision is successful, it’s about learning and using information and the stepping stones to getting to where we want to go.
Not only are we seeing the genetic gain especially in our yearlings, We are getting information through Universal Beef Packers that is confirming for us we have moved in the right direction.
In March 2015 we killed 13 Bulls at an average dead weight of 267.45 kg’s, live weight average 516.54 kg’s . The average yield was 51.75%.
In March 2016 we killed 12 Bulls at an average dead weight of 275.07 kg’s, live weight average 507.81 kg’s. The average yield was 54.00%.
Same age, Same conditions, Same feed. DIFFERENT GENETICS. GREATER PROFIT.
Our ideal goal would be to produce a 300kg carcase with a yield of 60% and believe this is highly achievable.