CHASING increased daily weight gains in yearling cattle off crop, Walcha-based producer Neil Dunn has introduced Herefords to his crossbred breeding program to produce black baldy calves.
Mr Dunn operates across a 907 hectare property Wirraway at Walcha running a grass-fed operation and finishing his cattle at export weights
"We are running between 280 and 300 head, and will join 300 in September/October including replacements," he said.
"We are chasing daily weight gain in yearling cattle on crop - we want to get them off as quickly as we can."
All the Dunn's stock are grown out on grass to export weights and sold direct to Wingham Beef Exports.
Otherwise using Angus, Shorthorn and Charolais, Mr Dunn said Hereford bulls recently purchased for the first time from Tummel Herefords, Walcha, will be used over his straight Angus cows, with black baldy heifers being retained for the crossbreeding herd.
BLACK BALDY CROSS GROWS IN POPULARITY
The popularity of black baldy cattle in crossbred systems has been growing, with a number of Hereford seedstock producers reporting recent bull offerings going to Angus operations.
"We get feedback from members saying Angus producers are turning up to bull sales to look at bulls. If members are selling to other breeds, it gives indication of what crossbreeding is taking place," Herefords Australia general manager Andrew Donoghue said.
This aligns with Herefords Australia trial work involving the Hereford/Angus cross that will finish in the next 12 months.
"The aim is to quantify benefits of Hereford bulls over Angus cows, and see the benefits the black baldy brings to commercial beef production systems, not just the steer portion but the F1 (first cross) females too," he said.
"Hybrid vigour helps with the growth rate side of things, but from the trial we are seeing early stages of maternal benefits particularly for second calvers and the ability of these females to get back in calf after raising their first calf ... there are some fertility benefits.
"We are also seeing some bull ownership benefits with big savings in cost per calf on the ground using Hereford bulls due to longevity."
Herefords Australia hope to roll out information and tool kits to help address challenges around how to consistently maximise hybrid vigour in crossbred operation, and how to stabilise and maximise hybrid vigour each generation.
SELECTING FOR CONFIRMATION AND YIELD
The Dunns select replacement females based on conformation and type, with temperament also a focus of the operation. Figures are also always looked at, but conformation comes first.
"We want conformation and body yield. We want carcases to come back with the correct yield, so we look for deep, long bodies that are soft-skinned," he said.
"We put emphasis on conformation and some figures when making bull buying selections.
"Because we run a crossbred operation, we have had some calving problems with calves coming too big ... so we are careful about big and early growth (including birth weights).
"We bought three bulls from Tummel for the first time, two polled and one horned. We were very impressed with the bulls' docility, Chris Lyle did a very good job they were so quiet to walk around."
Looking to sell some older bulls to make way for new blood, Mr Dunn said it was a wonderful year to trade up bulls.
"We have got some old bulls to sell shortly, and the trade up price of new bulls is attractive," he said.