A major aim of our cattle management was to be able to sell our spring drop steers at an average of about 300kg by April. In our cold climate steers held over winter make very little growth from April to August. We reached this goal in February 2013 when we weaned our spring drop calves at an average weight of 297 kg. The 200 day weights of our weaners is now 318 kg.
To achieve this growth rate we have imposed a heavy selection pressure on the growth rate of calves. When we moved to Binda our calves grew at an average of 1 kg per day, which is slightly better than the district average. Our calves are now growing to weaning at an average of 1.40 kg per day on our pastures which comprise mainly well fertilised native species with sub clover and some improved grasses. Cows whose calves are growing at less than 1.2 kg per day are culled unless there is some obvious problem that affected growth.
Most of our mature cows weigh between 600 – 700 kg and have frame scores between 5 and 6. We like deep bodied cows that maintain their weight through lactation and are able to cope with our freezing winters. Of the females currently in our herd 70% are in the top 20% of the breed for at least one of the financial indices.
Biggest is not always best. We look for:
moderate birth weight – oversize calves give calving problems. However bulls that produce very small calves produce daughters that have calving problems. A 38 kg calf is about ideal for our operation.
moderate milk production – the cow must produce enough for the calf to grow. Cows that produce too much milk lose weight and do not go back in calf. A calf that get too much milk is prone to scours. A calf on a good milker will often not do much grazing and weaning comes as a big shock. We like to see the calves grazing.
moderate mature cow size / frame score – big cows suffer in our cold conditions. Unless they can get through the winter without losing condition they produce poorly next lactation.
moderate fat cover – some fat on their backs helps our cows get through winter and provides enough fat in their offspring to achieve good carcase and eating quality. Cows with too much fat (the ones with fatty deposits around the hips and pins) appear to have the equivalent of insulin resistance and get sub-clinical laminitis and feet problems.
We use Cattlelink to record and analyse our management data. Details here.
Our stringent culling program has seen the Breedplan figures of our cattle increase rapidly as seen in the graphs below.
We only show our cattle in commercial and steer classes at our local Crookwell Show Commercial Section and take these animals straight from the paddock. We won the Supreme Champion Commercial Exhibit four times in five years, all with different animals and under different judges. Our results are shown here. In 2015 the entry requirements were changed to exclude purebred animals so in future we will be exhibiting Grading animals.
We breed some black Murray Grey cattle to meet the market demand for this colour and to provide a desirable alternative to other black breeds. Coat colour explanation here.
We are committed to provide the highest level of care for our cattle and follow The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines. We are in the Johnes Disease Market Assurance Program at MN3 level.
To breed quiet, structurally sound Murray Grey seedstock with proven high muscle and growth from grass.
CATTLE BREEDING PRIORITIES
- All breeding stock to be structurally sound.
- To maintain the easy calving, easy care, fertility and temperament of the herd.
- 200 day average daily gain to be 1.4 kg/day or better.
- Weaning weights to average 300 kg or better
- Use bulls of B muscle score.
- Cow herd to be C muscle average or better
- EBV for Eye Muscle Area (EMA) to be breed average or better.
- Supermarket Index of the offspring to be above breed average