Commercial Profitability ­ Futurity Shorthorns

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Collaboration Driving Genetic Gain

Collaboration Driving Genetic Gain

Profile of a TGS Supplier

Shorthorn breeders and brothers, Will and Tim Bowman, operate a cattle breeding, sheep and lamb and cropping enterprise on 2630-hectare property “Gundy” at Tooraweenah, NSW.

They join currently around 300 Shorthorn cows and 1500 Merino ewes each year and crop about 600ha annually.

The Bowman family has been breeding Shorthorn cattle at “Gundy” since the 1830’s and were one of the first breeders to support the JBS Australia Thousand Guineas brand. Around 100 head of “Gundy” steers are supplied to the JBS Australia feedlot at Caroona, usually weighing around 450 kilograms at 15 months of age.

BowmansEach year around 80 heifers are also retained and joined, with the remaining heifers sold to the JBS Scone plant for their grass-fed brands. Thee Bowman’s breeding strategy is focused on medium-framed, easy-doing cows with low birthweight. “We don’t want anything too big. We are tough on fertility and cull cows that don’t get in calf or raise a calf.”

The Bowman’s are also extremely conscious of ensuring that their annual turnoff also strictly meets the criteria for the JBS Australia Thousand Guineas brand, with an emphasis on marbling in their program. To support the Thousand Guineas brand, the Bowman’s work closely with their seedstock supplier, Jason Catts of Futurity Shorthorns, to ensure that they are driving genetic improvement in their herd. Around 250 cows are artificially inseminated to leading Shorthorn sires with 70% calving to the AI and the rest to quality back up bulls.

Far from being content to rest there though, they also work with Jason Catts and the Shorthorn Society to measure the performance of the progeny, both on farm and through carcase feedback.

“Dad had done a good job of buying better bulls, we are working on trying to improve on that.” Tim Bowman said.


The Bowman family is part of a Shorthorn satellite program, which sees leading commercial and seedstock producers working with the Shorthorn Society to develop protocols to ensure that performance data collected is suitable for inclusion in the breeds genetic evaluation program.
This year 102 Bowman family steers were measured through the Thousand Guineas program. Joining, calving and performance traits are measured on farm with a DNA sample taken as the cattle are sent to the feedlot. Carcase data is supplied to the Bowman’s by JBS Australia and the steers are genotyped, which guarantees the pedigree of each animal. The genomic testing is then used to provide highly accurate performance predictions for each sire used, allowing the Shorthorn breed to identify leading genetics for the future.


“Collecting data helps improve the herd by following what each sire is doing, but also getting down a bit deeper, to follow what the cows are doing.”
Heifers are also recorded and the flow on of carcase data from steers allows them to make better heifer selection decisions, which creates a looped feedback system. In this way, their supply to the JBS Australia Thousand Guineas brand is allowing them to sell into a premium Shorthorn market, whilst also allowing them to select for better generations of Shorthorns for the future.

“The main selection is that if the cow gets in calf, she stays. So, we are trying to follow progeny through to look a bit deeper and make sure her progeny really perform.”


COLLABORATION DRIVING GENETIC GAIN


Over the last couple of years Jason and Kylie Catts have been working with commercial producers like Will and Tim Bowman to collect meaningful field data to get a better understanding of what genetics are performing best in a commercial operation, to the feedlot and through to slaughter.


“The process has been rewarding on a number of levels, not just seeing how the cattle are performing. Working with commercial producers has allowed us to contribute to improving the profitability of their business and in turn gives us data that can improve our product more rapidly. It’s a real win win.


The process has evolved gradually with producers starting to AI their heifers and seeing benefit in using better genetics and shortening their calving period. By using the right bulls on heifers, we are finding the highest performing cattle are out of heifers. If we can display the benefits it does not take much more encouragement to keep people interested in using better genetics.


It’s a bit addictive, once people start improving their cattle and getting good feedback, they just want more so the process grows. We even have producers wanting to DNA and collect phenotypes of their heifers so they can get genetic evaluation on their females. This enables them to make more informed decisions on culling and joining options. It’s rewarding for producers and good for the accuracy of
Shorthorn genetic evaluation.


The model is pretty simple, producers collect birth dates and calving ease scores on their females, a weaning weight on the calves then we take a DNA sample of the calves for parent verification and genomic chip training. The steers go to the feedlot then abattoir for collection of growth and carcase
data. The information is then fed back into IGS contribution to genetic evaluation. It’s all the information we need to make rapid genetic gain and from non-biased large contemporary groups.


The changes that Shorthorn Beef has made to its service providers for genetic evaluation (IGS) and pedigree and data processing (C Gen) has made it possible to large scale progeny test programs at a fraction of the cost than was previously possible. It’s an exciting time for Shorthorn beef members who want to accelerate genetic gain. 


Overall from a seedstock producers prospective “it’s great to break down the barriers in the supply chain and have all sectors supporting and working together to make the product more profitable for everyone”

Source: Shorthorn Beef Summer magazine 2020

Artimore Cross the Evaluation Frontier

Artimore Cross the Evaluation Frontier

Measuring genetic inputs has long been the domain of the seedstock industry in Australia, however new technologies are rapidly changing that paradigm for the Shorthorn breed.

The Australian beef industry has relied on a trickle down system for genetic improvement. Progressive seedstock producers lock genetic gain into their programs through selection pressure and that locked in gain is captured by the rest of the supply chain as those genetics move forward.

In theory, providing seedstock herds are generating genetic gain within their programs and commercial breeders are discerning in their bull selections, the system works well. The missing link though, has always been around commercial heifer selections, where most producers use a simple gate cut or draft on the phenotype of a young animal. 

ArtimoreThe number one profit driver for any commercial breeder is always maternal efficiency. How much a breeding operation produces and how much it costs to produce is the underlying factor for sustainable beef production. That means a lot of importance is placed on the heifer selection process for self replacing herds. Given a lot of these decisions occur before a commercial female has had her first calf, there is often very limited genetic information to base a very important decision on.

For Tintinara, South Australia producers, “Artimore”; embracing new technologies to assist with heifer selection, is the next step forward in bringing genetic selection tools to their commercial breeding program. Artimore is a 5,260 hectare property, run by Michael Kempe with involvement from his parents Graeme and Pauline. Michael is the third generation to farm the mixed enterprise property, which consists of 1,200 cows, 2,000 Merino ewes and approximately 1,200 hectares of cropping annually.

The property ranges from sandy loam, with some limestone and some clay. Pastures are predominantly Lucerne based, with around a 10 year lifespan and cereal cropping in between as part of the pasture renovation program. Alternate row seeding allows for a harvestable cereal crop to be under sown with Lucerne with around 400 – 600 hectares annually renovated this way. Of the 1,200 breeding cows run on Artimore, 100 are pure Angus, with the remaining cattle 50% pure Shorthorn and 50% Shorthorn and traditional Simmental cross.

“Hybrid vigour was the main reason for the way our herd is structured. There are not many free kicks like that. “ Michael said, “We capture the weight gain but we also run a high stocking rate for this area and we are able to maximise turnoff.” 

The herd calves in both autumn and spring, which allows them to invest more in quality bulls, getting two joinings a year from each bull. It also allows them to maximise their turnoff from the farm. “It suits our country, spring is the best finishing time, between October to November and it helps us
manage our pastures. Being Lucerne based, summer rainfall can also extend the season.” The pure Shorthorn cows are joined to Shorthorn bulls and Simmental bulls, whilst the Shorthorn Simmental cross cows are joined to a terminal Angus sire. 

The Kempe family have targeted the vealer beef trade, selling direct to Hardwick Meats at Kyneton,Victoira. Artimore vealer calves sent to Hardwicks have been averaging 380 kgs liveweight at 8 months of age. In better spring conditions, the cattle will also supply the domestic supermarket trade. Minimum liveweight for the trade is 410 kilograms and calves are marketed above this weight at 9-10 months of age.

“We market pure Shorthorn calves at 8 months of age into the vealer market. A lot of people don’t believe us, but it has a lot to do with our country as well. It is very warm and healthy and cattle really perform here.”

Selecting the breeds is about combining the best attributes of each breed. Shorthorns form the base of the herd, with Simmental cross females adding extra muscling and milk. The cross is a very maternal cow. Angus genetics add the black hide for marketing as well as adding a little more condition and helping ensure that young calves have the finish for the market. The vealer market in Australia has seen some downturn in demand recently as processors work to maximise value by lifting carcase weights. Artimore cattle have begun selling into the EU feeder market as well.

90% of their feeder cattle are sold to Princess Royal Feedlot at Burra, SA and Michael says the returns from both EU accreditation as well as the increased performance of the cattle, has more than offset the returns from any other premiums. For Artimore, maximising net returns also means placing a lot of importance on genetic improvement across their livestock program.

ArtimoreAround 140 pure Shorthorn heifers are artificially inseminated each year in two groups of 70 heifers each season. Heifers are given two rounds of AI each, with around 80% calving to elite AI sires across a ten day period. Heifers are inseminated 2 weeks prior to the main joining to allow them extra time post partum to rejoin as 1st calvers.

“The ten day calving window is excellent. Plus, it sets the heifers up to be reproductive for the rest of their lives.”

The heifers, 1st and 2nd calving Shorthorn cows are all joined back to pure Shorthorn bulls. “We want to make sure we are capturing us much genetic gain from our program as we can. This way, our best genetics are always contributing replacements back into the herd.”

Shorthorn cows are also classed each year, to ensure that the best females are being joined to Shorthorn bulls, with the remainder joined to the Simmental bulls. This way, genetic gain is maximised in the purebred replacements coming through.


MEASURE IT TO MANAGE IT


However, to increase their understanding of each heifer drops performance, Artimore are moving to record their replacement females under the new Shorthorn Beef IGS system. Heifers and joining sires will also be genotyped, in part to provide pedigree information and to boost the accuracy of EPD
predictions on replacements. 

Phenotypes will also be captured such as calving ease, weaning and tearling weights and joining information. Most of which is routinely captured in commercial herds now. The difference is that the IGS evaluation will separate out the genetic components and report these back in EPD’s.

“It will help us put selection pressure on our replacements and it will be great to be able to have the data behind them. We haven’t been able to do this before, so it could really revolutionise our program.”

While the concept of recording commercial females and using genomics to increase the accuracy of selection is not new to the Australian beef industry, the ability to utilise the worlds largest multibreed genetic evaluation makes it far more accessible for many commercial breeders. Commercial breeders will be able to access IGS EPD’s and support this with genotyping. As the recorded and genotyped replacements enter into production, genotyping future replacements will also connect progeny information back to breeding cows through DNA based pedigrees, further strengthening the system.

Incorporating correctly collected carcase data on steer progeny, can also help inform further details regarding the herds level of performance.
“We’re hoping that it can help us to lift genetic gain rates in our herd. Beef is a measurable product but connecting the information in the supply chain hasn’t been easy. Being able to relay that information back into our selection could help us get a step ahead.”

Having purchased sires from various sales, Artimore made the move to source all their Shorthorn bulls from Futurity Shorthorns, Baradine, NSW and Michael says the relationship with the Catts family has really helped them moving forward. 

“It has brought consistency to the line of calves. They are very true to type for us. Structure is critical, otherwise we are looking to breed a moderate framed, moderate maturity, easy doing cow that is efficient.” Michael also feels that recording the Artimore replacement females will be a good way to drive their bull selection, tailored to their operations needs.


“I go to a fair few bull sales. For our program, bulls need to be sound and phenotypically attractive, but they also need to have performance. We need to be looking deeper than just the phenotype.”

Source: Shorthorn Beef Summer magazine 2020

Commercial Profitability

 Our number one aim in our cattle breeding program is to breed stock that make the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of effort and inputs for both ourselves and the breeders using our genetics.


thousand Guineas feedlot

Furturity are proud to be part of the Thousand Guineas branded shorthorn beef program.

The Thousand Guineas brand, is a premium marble score 2 product, with eating quality underpinned by MSA grading.

Eating quality is the main theme for the premium Thousand Guineas brand. Shorthorn derived feeder cattle (minimum 75% Shorthorn content from British crosses), are fed for a minimum of 130-140 days in JBS Australia feedlots to create a minimum marble score 2 product, targeted for the high end food service sector. Carcasses are aged before the full range of cuts are distributed to the retail sector, both domestically and internationally.

To be part of the program and gain price premiums register to be a supplier.

Shorthorn Beef Supplier registration form

 

Futurity Steers Perform Well in Feedlots

   Feedback received on slaughtered cattle both from the meat works and the retail sector is used for continual analysis and evaluation to improve our product for the producer.






We are strong believers in performance recording and go to great efforts to make sure the breeding values are as accurate as possible.

The best validation is when people using Futurity genetics are getting the desired results in their operations.



Woolworth steers and heifers

Steers and Heifers sold to Woolworths

 

 

  Futurity have used feedlot trials and carcase competitions as a way of

benchmarking their product.


Congratulations to Coonabarabran High who prepared a Futurity shorthorn cross steer who was the Jackpot winner at the The Upper Hunter Beef Bonanza was held on the  28th to 30th October 2011 at Scone.

 The steer was awarded the Heavy Middle Weight Champion, and Beef Bonanza Jackpot WinnerGrand Champion steer on hoof in the led section. He then competed against the unled champion and was awarded the Supreme exhibit on hoof for the show.

 The cattle then went on to be judged on the hook where he was an outstanding winner receiving 91points. He was awarded the Grand Champion Carcase and the Jackpot for the combined points of hook and hoof.  He was 14 mths old and weighted 480 kg after 100 days on feed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to Outback Shorthorns and Yanco High School for showing the Highest Scoring Shorthorn steer at 2011 Royal Melbourne Show.

The steer was sired by Futurity Convertible C109 a bull purchased by Outback at our 2009 On Property Bull Sale out of a first calf heifer.

 

 The better it tastes the more we eat!


 

 Steaks off a 14 month old Futurity Shorthorn heifer after 60 day on feed.

"Melt in your mouth"