Over the years certain traits have always come to the forefront of selection criteria for our angus cows. Rigorous demands in our breeding program have been placed on moderate frame, depth, easy fleshing, temperament and structure. These combined traits give cows the Eaglehawk cows the ability to wean a heavy calf under commercial conditions and then re-join in the allotted time.
We join our heifers at 14-15 months old to calve at 2 years of age. No Exceptions are made for empties or assisted births. She needs to wean a healthy calf and re-join or she hasn’t earned a place in the Eaglehawk herd. Heifers are all AI’d to performance bulls as these joining’s are intended to have a desirable breeding outcome and not a free ticket. A heifer’s calf should be just as profitable at sale time as a calf from an older cow.
For more on our philosophy, check out our ‘Breeding Philosphy’ Youtube video.
BREEDING for BALANCE
We believe that balance is the key to breeding a great cow herd. You can have all the numbers in the world, but if your cows don’t…
- Get in calf
- Hold their condition
- Calve unassisted
- Thrive on grass
- Wean half her body weight
…you don’t have much at all. It’s pretty easy to breed an angus cow with big EBV’s to a bull with the same and come up with a big set of numbers. But do you want the cost of monster cows? We believe that most discerning cattlemen would agree that good functional cows have a certain look about them. There isn’t an EBV for this yet! We do consider the numbers of course as they are a valuable tool to avoid the extremes.
Critical to Eaglehawk Angus is the consistency that we are known for in the marketplace. Deep, thick, quiet and sound cattle.
BREEDING for FERTILITY
Over many generations we have placed enormous emphasis on fertility in our cattle. We pregnancy test all cows every year and there are no exceptions made for non- compliance. The bulls are also tested before sale with results well above the average. Our clients often report back on exceptional preg test and semen tests that their vets have carried out.
We believe this is because of our balanced breeding plan and “no second chance” attitude. This has bred in an inherent efficiency and therefore fertility. The Eaglehawk Donor cows show their fertility also with the number of viable embryos we retrieve from them. Our donors average 12.8 embryos per cow (information collected over 20 years) which is about double the worldwide average for Angus. We believe it has something to do with their fertility. Eaglehawk cattle are inherently fertile.
When selecting heifers for their first joining at 14 months of age you will have a greater number ready to conceive at a younger age. This allows for more selection pressure and greater fertility.
This increased selection pressure will create a greater number of outstanding sale females that are surplus to requirements. The inherent fertility will mean that there will be more PTIC heifers to sell as breeders for more profit.
When managed according to their needs, these same cows are all re-conceiving the following year and continue to display outstanding maternal instincts.
Sale cattle will present as attractive and thick topped from an early age at weaner sales and carry through that same attractive look to feeder cattle and slaughter cattle.
We identify the females in the Eaglehawk herd that show and record superior characteristics and multiply them using Embryo Collection and transfer each year. These programs are carried out in our house breeding centre called Beefmark Breeding Centre.
We are continually striving to identifying the superior cattle that have the traits that increase profitability on farm (for our clients) and further down the chain (backgrounders, feedlotters, diners). We tend to collect record numbers of embyros as fertility is inherent in the Eaglehawk herd and the flow on effect is massive response to the programs we run. Therefore we always have embryos for sale.
We aritificially inseminate almost all cows each year using synchronised programs, holding back some to test our own herd sires.
Our own herd sires are used to back up all programs. The drought has been tough on the young cattle, especially the first calvers but we have had amazing results with AI and general joinings. It has been a perfect time to select the superior females.
We have developed our selection criteria regarding carcase in our Eaglehawk Angus from our experiences owning and marketing our own beef product under the Eaglehawk Farms brand. Over that time we learnt a huge amount to do with carcase quality. We fed hundreds of head during this time and kept diligent records of our kill sheets and MSA grading information. The most important lesson was that although we weren’t chasing the high IMF figures in our sires, the progeny still MSA graded consistently 4 and 5 marble score. Through this time, the main fact we uncovered was that angus cattle that maintained that softness and doing ability right through from birth, through weaning and onto a finished animal were the cattle that gave us the tenderest juiciest beef eating experience.
Eaglehawk Angus will provide high value and heavy carcases to the markets you sell into. The marbling will be more than adequate for a top eating experience and they will be consistent.
Soft cattle, soft meat.
STRUCTURE & FRAME
The “Eaglehawk Type” is best described as being structurally correct, with good feet and legs and carrying a deep body with natural thickness. In terms of muscle we look for an even, smooth, muscle pattern that is distributed evenly. The same with regards fat cover. Smooth and evenly distributed. Bone must be adequate but not too heavy.
Moderate frame is important here at Eaglehawk for maintenance and efficiency.
Number crunching plays a secondary role in sire selection at Eaglehawk. We research potential sires thoroughly prior to use. We travel thousands of miles to actually inspect the bulls in the flesh. Our chosen sires are selected on conformation, the strength of the herd they come from, pedigree and of course performance through their progeny. Only then do we consider the numbers.
[expand title=”READ MORE “] Each year we retain several our own bulls, as sires, so we get a direct comparison as to how our program compares to the selected A.I. sires. Our bulls are definitely on par and often our top priced bull in the sale comes from these natural, backup joining’s.
Check out our herd sires![/expand]
We diligently collect data to assess how the herd is performing. Our angus cows are run in large contemporary groups so that genetic differences have some meaning. All data collected is correlated by Angus Group Breedplan to compare us to the wider Australian Angus registered community and provide us with Estimated Breeding Values or EBV’s.
The type of data that we submit is as follows
- Artificial Insemination/joining date
- Weight of newborn calf (this is done within 24 hours of birth)
- Weaning, 400, 600 day weights
- Rib, rump, intra muscular fat (marbling) ultrasound
- Semen quality and scrotal measurement
DNA testing is carried out to identify genetic problems and to parent verify. We are always visually performance recording our herd, udders and structure are assessed by throughout the year.