ANGUS bulls with strong maternal traits are in demand from stud and commercial producers, as the beef industry looks to increase numbers quickly.
Breeders are now looking to produce moderate, functional cattle that can handle dry times and be flexible with markets, according to Cameron Cutler, beef product support, Semex.
Mr Cutler said the herd rebuild was a good opportunity for stud and commercial producers to change their breeding direction.
"We've seen a lot of producers putting pressure on birthweight, structural soundness, doability and fat," he said.
"A lot of people, as they rebuild, are changing business plans and they're rebuilding their cattle herds to suit their management practices.
"There was probably a lot of inefficient cattle during the drought."
Bulls with strong carcase and maternal traits were some of the sought-after Angus sires at Semex, Mr Cutler said.
"Montana Elevation 7108 is overall a well-balanced bull for type and performance, and another bull we see as a heifer option, who's again getting pretty widespread use, is Varilek Geddes 7068.
"Australian sire Texas No Regrets has also been popular. He's in the top one per cent of the breed for net feed intake and structually he's a good example of the breed."
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Agri-Gene general manager Chris McIlroy said maternal traits were definitely being considered in sire selection this year.
Among the sought-after sires through Agri-Gene is Baldridge Beast Mode B074, with straws being sold out since September.
"He's out of one of the better cows in the US," Mr McIlroy said.
"Most studs that have had a Beast Mode bull sell in the past 12 months have seen them top the sale. His progeny topped at Hazeldean, KO and Ben Nevis sales last year."
Other popular bulls include G A R Ashland, a high indexing, high marbling bull; strong maternal sire Glenoch-JK Makahu M602; and Australian bull Chiltern Park Moe M6.
"He's come through our Angus Edge progeny program for elite young sires, and he's been really popular. He's an easy calving bull in the top 1pc of the breed for docility, with really good feet and structure."
Structure is key for all of Genetics Australia's semen sires, and that focus will continue with the female side, with feet, legs and udder quality in focus as herds rebuild.
Beef products manager Nigel Semmens said some of his most popular sires were S Chisum 255 and Rennylea Kodak K522.
"Chisum is a bull that offers a lot of maternal traits, with good structure, calving ease and growth," Mr Semmens said.
"Kodak is one of the top bulls available for carcase ease, good growth, and high IMF."
For studs and commercial operators who select sires based on indexing, G A R Phoenix has been in demand.
"He's one of the highest indexing bulls available in Australia, so he suits the producers that are very focused on wanting to use high indexing bulls.
"Musgrave 316 Exclusive has also been very popular. He's a son of LD Captialist 316 who has been pretty popular but Exclusive offers more frame and size than his sire, with good growth (+139 for 600-day), but he's breed average on birthweight."
Lawsons Momentous M518 is sought after for his exceptional structure.
"He has very balanced EBVs with birthweight and growth, with very good carcase, in the top 1pc of the breed for EMA and IMF," Mr Semmens said.
"He's a bull that has been inspected by numerous Angus breeders across the country and they've been very pleased with his feet and leg structure and overall phenotype."
ABS Australia, which has consistently been the number one semen supplier for the Angus breed, had record semen sales in April, May and June.
Among the most popular bulls in the ABS catalogue is Millah Murrah Paratrooper P15, the record breaking $160,000 bull.
"Very few bulls out there have the phenotype, EBVs and the discipline of the Millah Murrah breeding program behind them," beef product manager Bill Cornell said.
"About 50 calves are on the ground and they're looking really special, with lots of thickness and depth. We released him straight away to the commercial industry, so two-thirds of his semen has gone to commercial producers."
Older bulls Landfall Keystone K132, born in 2014, and impact sire Te Mania Emperor E343, are also in demand.
"Keystone is in the top 5pc of the breed for calving ease direct, top 6pc for calving ease daughters, 6pc for gestation length, and 8pc, with tremendous birth to growth," Mr Cornell said.
"The other really strong performer is Emperor, who passed away recently. Even though he was over 10 years of age, he was our third highest selling Angus bull this year, with 90pc of semen sales going to the commercial industry because people love his consistency and his great females."
Genetics suppliers reported strong demand for sexed female semen this year, as producers look to increase herd size quickly.
"A good chunk of our sexed semen is going to commercial producers in NSW and southern Qld," Mr Cutler said.
"A lot of people are rebuilding using AI because it lets you access some of the better bulls, domestically or overseas. It is an extra cost, but they're prepared to pay it because the margin on a female and a steer well and truly covers the extra cost."