There has been a lot of conjecture concerning growth in cattle.
Many Angus breeders have commented on the larger cattle that Banquet breed. These cattle are bigger by being thicker, (wider throughout) longer and deeper. To handle the extra volume and hence weight, by necessity, they have a heavier bone structure.
A Hereford breeder once said about the Banquet style of Angus, “They are black Herefords”.
This year we can accept this as a compliment. Hereford weaners outsold Angus weaners. But why was this the case?
It gets back to perceptions – Angus cattle perform better in feedlots; Herefords grow out to be heavier on grass. With high grain prices putting the brakes on feedlots, the demand this year was for weaners to grow out.
Many Angus breeders have developed herds for one market and one market only – the feedlot market. With climate change and the development of bio-fuels it would appear that low cost grain is a thing of the past. So what changes need to occur?
Stephen and Noeleen Branson have always counselled their Banquet clients into developing superior breeding herds. “Cows need to produce calves that are versatile enough to meet a number of markets”, Stephen maintains.
He also suggests “A 600 day EBV figure is a weight figure and is not always an indicator of animal growth as in size.” He adds, “It is very easy to weigh cattle – but it is not as straight forward to assess growth by way of type.”
Angus Australia is considering developing an EBV for grass fed cattle. But this begs the question; what data will Breedplan use to produce such an index?
The best bullocks are those that hang plenty of meat on their large, thick and long frames. When selecting weaners for this market, buyers have to make an assessment visually, so that cattle are of the correct type. As a criteria, weight alone is insufficient when purchasing for this market.
So how do we know that Banquet bred animals are going to grow bigger and turn into more profitable bullocks? For those of us that are EBV minded, compare an animal’s 600-day weight figure with its mature cow weight figure.
In the majority of seedstock herds the trend has been to select for small mature cow weights and hence smaller cattle.
If one reads the latest Angus Group Breedplan Sire Summary, it is very obvious that Banquet has been selecting for larger and hence more powerful cows. In the summary, 21 Banquet sires are listed. All sires have mature cow weights that approach, or are larger than their 600-day weight figure. Now look at other studs that sell bulls and compare.
Furthermore, Landmark’s NSW Livestock Manager, Mark Barton buys thousands of weaners each year for clients to grow out. Some are destined for feedlots and some end up as bullocks.
Mark has a preference for Banquet cattle.He knows that they are versatile enough to safeguard his clients. The steers suit both long and short term feeding and if the markets tighten, then they can be grown out into bullocks.
Another important reason to breed a superior cowherd is the value it attaches to females. Noeleen Branson suggests, “There is only so much value one can add to steers.” Noeleen believes there is far more opportunity to increase the price of heifers and cows. “Take a first cross ewe”, Noeleen reminds us; “a ready to join maiden ewe costs at least twice its head value.”
And Noeleen is correct. There will come a time when heifers of superior breeding value will attract such a premium.
To discuss breeding bigger and more versatile cattle, telephone Stephen or Noeleen on 03 5599 2764 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.