GENETIC selection is the foundation of a good herd, and those decisions will be even more important this year as beef breeders look to increase numbers following years of drought.
The Australian cattle herd currently sits at ------ million, down --- per cent on 2019.
Beef consultant Bill Hoffman said some producers in his beef groups across northern NSW had destocked by more than 50pc
Mr Hoffman said the options were to buy in replacement breeders, which generates cash flow quickly, or take the slow and steady route, breeding up gradually over a number of years.
"There are people who totally destocked sold all breeders, and others only moderately, but that reduction can be felt for many years after the drought," Mr Hoffman said.
"To go and borrow money is a significant impediment for producers, but that gets cashflow back in order, they're back in business fairly quickly
"A gradual rebuild means they're starved for cashflow for the next few years, because there's a lower pregnancy rate from the drought, and they're keeping all heifer claves as breeders.
"I think the majority of people will give their place a bit of a spell, or take some agistment cattle, and rebuild the herd slowly."
Commercial breeders need to be mindful that they're making long-time breeding decisions as they buy new genetics in this selling season, Mr Hoffman said.
"From a genetic point of view, they need to be mindful of the fact that a large percentage of female calves will be kept as breeders, and there won't be as much selection pressure put on cows.
"It's not about buying a cheap heifer bull just to make the heifers have a live calf, but instead, using bulls that have the potential improve the genetic traits, with fertility, mature cow size, days to calving and calving ease - traits across the board.
"You need to make sure you're taking a balance of traits for the next few years."
The one positive of the current situation is being able to change direction with genetics, whether it's through a new stud, new bloodlines, or working on a different breedig objective.
"It's an opportunity for producers to step back and evalaute where they are, and design what we want for the future," Mr Hoffman said.
"It's important to focus on recovery - you can't look backwards and rethink decisions made in drought."
Producers are also looking to be more flexible with markets, particularly those who had been targeting specific programs and growing cattle to kill weights.
"People are looking at some other market options where they had to meet a higher levels of specifications, like MSA or certified grass-fed, and they may just focus on getting calves to a feeder steer weight and kept it less complicated," Mr Hoffman said.
"There is strong interest in those markets but you need the quality and quantity of feed to meet those specifications. It's been a bit easier to meet a weight spec in a feeder steer market."