Our Cattle

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About Our Cattle

We focus on producing quiet, high quality seed stock for stud and commercial buyers, placing great emphasis on efficient production and carcase quality.

Cadfor Murray Grey stud was established in 2001 when we purchased the property at Binda. Prior to this, the stud operated at Picton as Wilton Park Murray Greys, in partnership with Rod’s parents, since the 1970’s. Click here to see how Rod got involved with Murray Greys.

For 30 years the Wilton Park Murray Greys were heavily selected for temperament, fertility and milking ability. After taking over the herd, we assessed that the cow herd needed to improve in muscularity and could benefit from a modest increase in frame score. Bulls were selected to initiate these changes.

Cadfor cattle are paddock reared and are supplemented as seasonal conditions dictate. We do not routinely feed grain, only providing hay or silage and possibly a protein supplement depending on pasture quality and availability. We try to provide the best possible pastures to allow the cattle to express their genetic potential under commercial conditions. We record weights at birth and weaning and routinely scan males and females for carcase characteristics. We use Cattlelink to record and analyse our management data. Details here.  All data is submitted to BREEDPLAN for analysis.

We rear the majority of our heifers on the expectation that they will be better, on average, than their mothers. This gives an advantage for Breedplan analysis because the size of the contemporary group is large and the estimate of genetic worth is more accurate. We assess the heifers on their ability to produce a calf and cull them based on the 200 day growth rate of their calves. Rearing many heifers to replace their mothers gives another genetic advantage, that of decreasing the generation interval thereby speeding our genetic progress.

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.

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 1.30 kg per day on our pastures which comprise mainly well fertilised perennial grasses with sub, balansa and white clovers. 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.

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.

Our goal is an efficient breeding operation that produces animals that meet market specifications.  To do that we need:

moderate birth weight – oversize calves give 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.

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.

carcase that meets market specifications – scanning our breeders allows us to select animals with superior eye muscle and adequate fat cover

We transfer our data to Breedplan through the Murray Grey Society.  Of the financial indices provided in Murray Grey reports, we consider the Supermarket $Index better reflects our situation than the other $Indices available: Vealer Terminal, Grain Fed, Northern Terminal and Breeder Replacement.  Therefore we primarily assess our genetic progress using the Supermarket $Index.


The graph shows clearly that our Supermarket $Index has improved over 20 years but our $Index is significantly better than Breed Average and the advantage has increased over that period.  In the May 2024 Breedplan report for Cadfor Murray Greys, over 70% cows in our herd were in the top 20% of Supermarket $Index for cows in the Murray Grey breed.

How else can we judge our progress?  Because of the commercial focus of our operation, we do not show our cattle in stud classes which depend on the “feed them and lead them” preparation.

We show our cattle in commercial and steer classes at our local Crookwell Show Commercial Section and take these animals straight from the paddock. We have won the Supreme Champion Commercial Exhibit four times in five years, all with different animals and under different judges.

We also exhibit animals in the Steer Shows in Hoof and Hook classes in association with cooperating schools.  In May 2020 we exhibited a steer, Q119, with a carcase score of 99% which was described as the near perfect score.  In 2024 the two steers bred by Cadfor achieved Gold Medal awards for having superior carcases meeting market specifications.  These results indicate that we are producing superior carcases off grass.

Similar to our results for the Supermarket $Index, more than 70% of cows in our herd are in the top 20% for Eye Muscle Area (EMA).  This is clear evidence that Cadfor Murray Greys are achieving superior carcase standards.

It became apparent that some of the bulls we had used carried a variant of the Myostatin which caused ‘double muscling’.  The variant in our herd is designated NT821.  Animals with a single copy of this gene (carriers) can only be identified by a DNA test.  Animals with 2 copies of the NT821 gene (affected) show heavier muscle development at birth which greatly increases the likelihood of calving problems (dystocia).

Some studs have used carrier bulls to increase muscling but we believe this practice is risky, particularly when the status of the females is not known.  To avoid problems in clients’ herds, we only sell bulls proven to be free of NT821.  Furthermore we believe that our breeding strategy produces superior carcase quality without the risk of NT821 and therefore we intend to eliminate NT821 from our herd.

In 2024 we received information that we were in a listing of Top Studs (all breeds) based on our stud’s data being better than breed average.  The graph below ranks our data across all criteria against the average Murray Grey breed data.

This graph demonstrates we are achieving our goals across all our Estimated Breeding Values.

We are committed to provide the highest level of care for our cattle and have followed the The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for some years.

Cadfor is now accredited under the Livestock Production Assurance program (ID 17763) which has seven key areas:

1. Property risk assessment
2. Safe and responsible animal treatments
3. Stock foods, fodder crops, grain and pasture treatments
4. Preparation for dispatch of livestock
5. Livestock transactions and movements
6. Biosecurity
7. Animal welfare

We now provide pain relief to all calves at castration.  We find that this assists in their return from cattle yards back to their paddock.

We now intend to get accreditation in the Pasturefed Cattle Assurance Program (PCAS).

MISSION STATEMENT

To breed quiet, structurally sound, efficient producing Murray Grey seedstock that produce a quality carcase from grass.

CATTLE BREEDING PRIORITIES
  • All breeding stock to be structurally sound and have a Supermarket $Index above breed average.
  • To maintain the easy calving, easy care, fertility and temperament of the herd.
  • To achieve superior carcase quality without any double muscling genes such as NT821.
  • To manage our property and livestock to ensure a safe product, biosecurity, product integrity and market access.

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