COWS – Let’s get back to basics…
As you may already know, we are forging our own unique path to a lot of other mainstream Angus breeders. This being said, we are really just getting back to basics we believe. Cattlemen and women are constantly bombarded with differing points of view as to what makes a profitable cow herd. Is it chasing massive growth performance and marbling or is it on-farm function and solid market ready sale cattle.
Where does true profit lie?
Chasing the big 600 weight, IMF, and mature cow weights are clearly impacting the Angus breed.
On farm performance of the cowherd is what we get paid for.
How big is too big and when do we stop.
Financial performance will decline as target weights cost more and take longer to achieve. Slowly, but surely.
Fertility is waning also. If pregnancies aren’t occurring as easily as they should these cows are free loaders and are impacting your bottom line. This costs dollars that we tend not to add up. Heifers don’t calve as easily as they used to because breeding the high marbling, high 600 day and high mature cow weight type cattle tends to breed a narrower, harder, frailer, female and if you join her to a heavier birthweight bull she may not be able to deliver her calf. You may now lose a heifer and her offspring. Ouch.
Rising 2 year old heifer nursing twins.
To play marbles….
You need to understand that scanning for IMF isn’t an exact science. It is an indication but certainly not gospel. The animal will exhibit it’s true marbling potential in the chiller after the animal has been finished on either grass or grain. Usually the more grain the more marbling. The Ultrasound scanning figures are collected anytime from yearling to 600 day and on any feed type, grain or grass.
You may be targeting a high marbling (IMF) figure when selecting bulls and this brings a range of problems if not kept in balance with other traits. For instance high IMF tends to reduce the rib and rump fat from an animal and overall muscularity. The fat cover indicates to us an easy doing, efficient animal that has reserves to reproduce when times are tough.
Angus cows have become too large. They take too much fuel to keep themselves alive when feed is scarce. They suffer two fold: they fail to feed their calf and/or they suffer from lack of nutrition and don’t rebreed.
It is our view that easy doing, moderate type cows are far more profitable. More calves, more cows in calf and marketable, attractive lines of sale cattle.
Interestingly there is a lot of talk in Australia, in the last couple of years, about moderating the cow to aid in efficiency. Sometimes we have to be pushed to our limits like the recent drought to realise that something needs adjusting.
See our BREEDING page for more info about the Eaglehawk breeding program.