The opportunity terminal genetics offer

Simmental breeders around the country are waiting eagerly for the next stage of the Beef & Lamb NZ Genetics Beef Progeny Test. Begun in 2014, The B+LNZ Genetics Beef Progeny Test is comparing bulls of different breeds under New Zealand commercial farming conditions.

Potawa Simmentals at Piopio holds its annual on-farm bull auction at the end of May.

The test is involving about 2200 cows and heifers on five large properties across New Zealand. A mix of both internationally-sourced and New Zealand semen is being used. Steers and cull heifers will be assessed on their carcase traits, while replacement heifers will be tracked for their maternal characteristics.

Simmental NZ – a significant funding partner in the B+LNZ Genetics BPT – is especially excited by the test’s early outcomes. Simmental bulls have been used at Whangara Farms, north east of Gisborne and at Rangitaiki Station, east of Taupo. The Simmental bulls produced progeny with higher average weaning, 6kg higher, and yearling weight, at 20kg higher.

The difference between the highest and lowest average adjusted sire weaning weight in the progeny from the 2014 mating was 26kg. At a conservative price of $4/kg, that’s $104/head. If a sire produced 50 calves a year, that’s $5200. If the sire was used for three years, that’s $15,600.

An extra $15,600 looks attractive, especially if the cost is only the difference between buying one bull over another. But it’s also an insight to the opportunity terminal genetics offer.

Estimated breeding values

The progeny test is highlighting the monetary benefits commercial farmers can enjoy – if they make a small time investment and target specific genetic traits that will deliver them more of what they need.

It is great having this real-life demonstration happening right here in New Zealand. Commercial farmers can see first-hand that beef genetics work. What they are seeing is calf performance very closely matching what is predicted by the parent bull’s Estimated Breeding Values.

This sort of outcome is not new or novel. Breeding values have been available in bull sale catalogues for decades for breeders and commercial farmers alike to use, and research around the world has demonstrated their application and predictability. It makes good economic sense to use a bull that has EBVs available rather than one you know nothing about. Bull breeders who record the information, which goes into the Estimated Breed Values, will tell you that the higher the accuracy of the EBV, the easier it is to see the genetics work.

Potawa Simmentals at Piopio holds its annual on-farm bull auction on Tuesday, May 30, at 1pm, and all 20 bulls catalogued have full EBVs available. You can call them for a catalogue or check out their online catalogue at: Viewing of the bulls prior to sale is welcome, just give them a call.


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