Friday, 21 August 2020 11:51

The reason to buy Hereford bulls is ‘black and white’

Written by  Staff Reporters
The use of beef bulls over dairy cows is an activity that has varied in popularity over the years. The use of beef bulls over dairy cows is an activity that has varied in popularity over the years.

The NZ Hereford Association warns farmers not to persist in playing Russian roulette with “bush bulls”.

Posy Moody, general manager of NZ Herefords, says the decision to buy registered Herefords is black and white.

“You have some assurance regarding the bull’s traits and the progeny they will sire.

“The genetic variation within all breeds dictates that now more than ever dairy farmers need to be armed with good bull selection tools.

“We know that dairy farms are busy, so efficiency and convenience reign supreme, which is why we urge dairy farmers to view the list of registered dairy merit sires and consider their options before buying”.

The use of beef bulls over dairy cows is an activity that has varied in popularity over the years.

The use of beef bulls was once widespread, and then curtailed in response to increased calving difficulty as the beef breeds made genetic improvement for growth and concurrently increased birth weight. 

However, with careful genetic selection made over the years by stud breeders and focus on calving ease, they have been able to produce sires with low birthweight, whilst maintaining high growth.

The contribution of calf sales to overall farm income on a dairy farm is increasing and with impact on farming by the social conscience of consumers, we are likely to see this increase more.

 Producing beef-cross dairy calves for sale as feeder calves instead of Jersey or Friesian sired calves destined for the processing at 4 days of age is seen now as a means of generating additional income.

Previously it was reported that the use of beef bulls created some risks, particularly around calving difficulty, however we now know that the selection of appropriate bulls is critical to the success of such programmes, as a result Beef and Lamb Genetics created a research programme.

The Dairy Beef Progeny Test is now heading into its fifth year exploring the performance of beef bulls with a range of estimated breeding values (EBV) to determine appropriate bull types for use in dairy herds. NZ Herefords support the research programme yearly by encouraging their stud breeders to enter bulls into the trial.

The previous tests showed that progeny performance reflected sire EBV’s, so farmers can use EBVs to get the types of calves they want from beef bulls. There are some exceptionally high performing beef bulls available, which could be used via artificial breeding in dairy herds to generate surplus calves of high value.

Using beef bulls over 15-month-old heifers requires very low birthweight bulls and well grown heifers.

NZ Herefords Association has made it one step simpler for buyers to identify the appropriate bull for the dairy industry by running their own “Boehringer Ingelheim Dairy Merit Sire” programme awarding owners of bulls which have displayed low birth weight, high growth and good maternal index. 

Using these criteria, the programme identifies sires which will be ideal for use within dairy beef programmes. It is a tool that should be used in conjunction with eye appraisal as structural soundness and smooth shoulders also positively assist calving ease. 

2019 sires list

A full list of the 2019 born sires which qualified for the award is listed on the NZ Hereford website herefords.co.nz.

Alternatively, look for the Boehringer Ingelheim Dairy Merit sires’ brand at your Hereford Spring Bull sale. 

(For a list of spring sales visit herefords.co.nz/bull-sale-calendar)

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Lely offerings for the future

Dutch robotic specialist Lely launched a new farm management application called Horizon at its recent Future Farm Days 2020.

Designed to connect data from a range of on-farm equipment and suppliers into one management system, it creates a real-time decision-support platform, to make the farmer’s life easier, the herd healthier and the farm more profitable, says Lely.

Developed over a 24-month period, with over 100 test farmers in seven countries, working with 75 engineers, designers, farm management advisors, veterinarians and AI specialists, the new application will eventually replace the current Lely T4C management system. It uses smart algorithms and the cloud to deliver data that is processed into actionable information that is always accessible on any device in a user-friendly way.

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The migration is planned in a phased approach, from country to country, over the year 2021.

Also launched at the event, Lely Exos is an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

The company suggests that feeding fresh grass makes better use of available roughage, suggesting “fresh” has between 10 and 20% more nutritional value than grass silage, as there are minimal losses typically seen during mowing, tedding, raking, harvesting and feeding.

Lely suggests that feeding fresh grass over an extended season reduces the amount of silage that has to be conserved, reduces the need for concentrates and bought-in feed and increase the margin made on each litre of milk produced.

Based around an all-electric vehicle that mows and feeds, Exos is light weight and uses soil friendly technology, that can be exploited throughout the growing season. Design to work 24/7 as feed requirements change, the system places no constraints on labour or time, while it is also designed to work in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding systems.

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