After reading the 'Fat V Thin weights on cow productivity' article in the Queensland Country Life 7th August 2014, I had a warm feeling in regards to the direction that the Burenda Angus and Brangus herds have been taking. Breeding heifers and cows with rib and rump fat cover EBV's above breed average has been our focus for the last few years as I have always believed in a number of things associated with this. Meaty maternal easy doing Burenda females have the ability to:-
Build body fat levels in good times which can be offset against dry periods, hence lengthening the time before supplementary feeding or destocking. This has been noticeable with our breeders running on agistment country on the Western Downs.
Higher fat levels are proven to place breeders in a position to maintain fertility with higher conception rates within a herd. The Burenda herd achieved an overall 93% conception rate in a very dry year with a reduced joining in late 2013. Emphasis should also be placed on the calving interval or days to calving from the first pregnancy.
Fat levels are important so as to enable producers to finish progeny in a pasture or crop situation. However this needs to be balanced as cattle destined for the feed on market could lay down more fat on the improved nutrition. These fat levels are particularly important in production systems which rely on pasture and crops to finish cattle. Systems such as Organic Beef, pasture fed EU cattle, pasture fed MSA cattle and grass fed bullocks are all reliant on the ability of a animal to lay down fat to finish and this is becoming increasingly important in the last few years with the boom bust type environmental weather we are experiencing. Opportunities to finish cattle are getting shorter and we need to make the most of these when they are available.
Balance is the key word with improving fat levels. We still need to consider all other aspects of the breeding herd and the 17 EBV's traits from calving ease right through to docility. Quieter cattle perform better and getting the balance on all of these is a juggling act that we have been working on. We believe the Burenda Angus and Brangus Stud herds are commercially focused on the basis of fertility and carcase performance.
Burenda Brangus cows ready to calve on agistment at Tamarie June 2013.