For years the angus breed has been hell bent on selecting for marbling and high growth.
These two traits are single handedly creating problems with fertility traits and doability of the angus breed. How many angus breeders these days are nervous calving heifers?
Plenty, I would say as requests for heifer bulls is growing. Frail cattle don’t calve as easily as their more robust, easy doing, deep, maternal sisters.
If you did a cost benefit analysis on fertility vs growth and marbling you would be amazed.
A moderate cow is important
Your business will produce more kilograms per hectare with a softer and more moderate cow. This is possible as the moderate cow has the ability to maintain body condition through bad times and cost you less. I’m not talking small, I’m talking moderate frame. They require less energy as their requirements are less and this will show in your profitability. We are convinced that the continual lowering of conception rates experienced in the angus breed over the last twenty years is a direct correlation to large cows that struggle in bad times (and even in good times) to produce a thumper calf and put on fat to survive. Research showing the difference in fertility between both on the same feed resource would be a valuable trial in our breed.
To make a profit from your cow
There must first be a pregnancy, then the delivery of a live calf. Then you need survivability until the calf is weaned. She must raise a heavy calf and still have the body condition to get back in calf and deliver again the next year. Moderating the cow size and milking ability will improve herd fertility. If she is large framed this will be more difficult when times are tough. Just raising her calf will tax her reserves and then she needs to recover and rebreed or she is gone.
Single trait selection is a trap.
We have observed over many years the impact of selecting for marbling and the effect this has had on the angus breed. About 20 years ago (about the time Australian Angus started the marbling chase) we visited a high profile/high marbling angus stud in the USA and we were surprised yet not impressed with their frailty and structure. We seriously thought we were looking at wagyu cross cattle… not angus. Breeding high marbling accompanied with high Mature Cow Weight (this usually goes hand in hand with high 600 day weights) will eventually breed the fertility and doability from your herd.
Angus cattle have always marbled adequately. Why would the breed try to match it with a high marbling breed such as the Wagyu?
We are always conscious of the IMF breeding value when choosing sires but that is certainly not the most important trait.
When you look at your cows in a year like we have had are you happy with their production and condition?
We are happy when we see a pregnant cow like the one above, wean a six month calf that looks like this. This heifer is thick, soft, deep with moderate frame and would outweigh large frame contemporaries (on the available grass) and therefore be profitable.
For the good of your herd, bank balance and peace of mind a rethink is needed when purchasing your next bull if you are still being pushed towards the IMF big end of town.
There is always a trade off.
Sandpoint Firestorm is a moderate, deep, fleshy bull with a tonne of capacity. Pictured also is an Eaglehawk Firestorm daughter to the left. Because of their low maintenance they tend to mature earlier as seen with this 7 month old calf.
Koupals Kozi, the father of the Eaglehawk heifer pictured above. We are targeting the bulls that will add depth, early maturity, softness and fertility in a moderate easy doing package.
Short film of Kozi, Click here.