Our selection focus is multi-faceted. We avoid single trait selection but we cull on single traits. For example, we won’t buy a bull simply because he has good feet but we will cull a bull if he throws calves with bad feet.
Our commercial herd focuses on hybrid vigour. Every breed has something valuable to contribute in this industry. We’ve built our herd using 4 breeds: Simmental, Hereford, Angus and Speckle Park. Hybrid vigour is key to our commercial herd. It has delivered improvement in the vigour, shape and size of the calves, cow fertility, hair coat and disposition.
Our cattle must be safe enough for our daughters and neighbours to work around. Working cows should not be an adrenaline rush. We pail feed our backgrounders and replacements all winter. This has marked benefits in the quietness of the herd.
Feet and udders are of particular importance. Our cows and bulls walk a lot, all year round. Soundness is key. Temperament and udder structure are what make calving 400 cows possible for just the 2 of us. Our cows are good moms. Over 95% of our herd calves without any assistance. So, if they’ve calved on their own, the last thing we want to do is bring them to the yard to get a calf started sucking.
Udder Score: 5
Udder Score: 5
Udder Score: 4
Our herd also needs to be adaptable. We live where it can be very dry and feed can be hard to come by. So our cows need to be able to thrive no matter what the feeding system is. They have grazed both tame and native pasture. They’ve summered in rented bush pasture hours away. They’ve wintered on stubble, swath grazing, tame hay, bale grazing and straw and grain rations.
DNA profiling has given us another fantastic selection tool to use. It’s allowed us to be more precise when breeding for specific genes (leptin, PMCH, horns, colour…). It’s also allowed us to quickly identify bulls that sire the type of calves we prefer.