Improving herd, carcases with genetics

Improving Angus cow herd and carcases with genetics

Beef
FERTILITY IS KEY: James Crawford only keeps breeders that fall pregnant quickly.

FERTILITY IS KEY: James Crawford only keeps breeders that fall pregnant quickly.

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James Crawford is turning off consistent lines of steers each year,.

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JAMES Crawford is turning off consistent lines of steers each year, thanks to a tight calving period and a focus on quality, commercially-oriented genetics.

Mr Crawford established his EU-accredited Angus herd when he bought Galimbang at Yaven Creek in 2014, and has been using Scotts Angus bulls for the past five years.

"They have a genuine commercial focus and their breeding objectives are aligned to mine, which is focusing on optimum kilograms of beef her hectare," he said.

Fertility is a big priority, with Mr Crawford only keeping breeders that fall pregnant quickly.

"Our program is to join 500 females for three cycles," he said.

"We then scan and retain the first two cycles but have the third cycle as a back up.

"I join all the heifers and I like to select 115 from the early joiners to calve down each year but this year it's 140 to compensate for fire losses.

"Calving has just started and with a few generations focusing on birthweight, you really see the benefit of it."

Even though my steer turnoff is at 450 kilograms, at 15 months, the feedlot is continuing to feed them for 100 plus days, so I want them to get that benefit - they are my customer. - Angus breeder James Crawford

Bulls are tested for soundness every year prior to joining, and Mr Crawford monitors condition scores of cows, aiming for 2.5 at calving.

"The Scotts bulls are well grown out, but are not overfed, so they have longevity and they're fit for work.

"They're also using genomics which allows for more accurate EBV data."

Mr Crawford is also selecting bulls based on marbling figures, fat and scrotal circumference, as well as 600-day weight.

"Even though my steer turnoff is at 450 kilograms, at 15 months, the feedlot is continuing to feed them for 100 plus days, so I want them to get that benefit - they are my customer," he said.

Mr Crawford continued to meet the feeder steer market throughout the drought.

In good seasons, steers are finished on pastures, but he's also in the process of setting up a confinement feeding space, which will help with weaning calves and give him flexibility in tight seasons.

It was also a huge help at the beginning of this year, when he lost most of his feed and fences to fire.

"Last autumn I had invested in a water system, equipping a bore and tank on the hill, and concrete pads and troughs, so while I didn't have pens built yet, I used the 14-hectare holding paddock they were in to feed the cow herd after the fire," Mr Crawford said.

"I've been able to get my steers to the right weights, but the key to that was early weaning and feeding early on to keep that growth curve going."

Feedback has shown his steers are improving in terms of feedlot performance and carcase quality, but the cow herd has also improved with Scotts bulls.

"With bulls from Scotts you're accessing the best global genetics, and their cattle are proven performers under genuine commercial conditions," Mr Crawford said.

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