My name is Ian Locke. Having completed a degree in Agricultural Economics and working as an agricultural business consultant for 6 years I returned home in 1994 to manage the family grazing business at “Spring Valley” Holbrook in southern NSW.Today I am wanting to give you a brief overview of the production system and management of the Wirruna herd and then talk about why we think that the genetic outcomes for commercial beef producers.
To start with I want to give you a picture of our operation….The property “Spring Valley” is located 6 km S of Holbrook on the Hume Highway.
The enterprises are principally seedstock cattle & prime lambs. These enterprises are run as hard as we can with a focus on per HA performance rather than production per head! We aim to run high production and profitable enterprises by driving down costs/kg of production.
I am the 3rd generation of Locke’s to manage the Wirruna herd, which was established by my Grandfather in 1949. The Seedstock beef enterprise differs from most studs in that we place large emphasis on raising cattle under commercial stress conditions. There is no pampering going on.
Stocking rate is totally in the control of management.One of my criticisms of the stud industry is that they change their environment to suit genetics. Commercial beef breeders must have genetics that suit their environment.Stock rate often limited by attitude of management
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Wirruna poll hereford presentation
WIRRUNA POLL HEREFORDSGenetics for the commercial beef producer Ian Locke Wirruna Poll Hereford Stud “Spring Valley” Holbrook NSW 2644
Area: 3,560 Acs. (1,400 effective Ha)Rainfall: 708 mm winter dominant (563mm over the 2000’s)Soils/Landscape: Highly variable ranging from heavy clay flats to granite based slopes & rocky hills. 80% arableFertility: Naturally acidic and inherently infertile ….but very responsive to fertiliser & lime inputsPastures: “Pastures are the powerhouse” Mainly improved perennial pastures and clover
Ave Current Livestock Enterprise Annual Production DSE %- No.s age 200,000+ kg beef cattle 75% 1,200 headSeedstock Beef Cattle Sell 150+ Poll Hereford (calve 500 Cows) Bulls/annum 12,000kg greasy wool 25%Prime Lamb Flock 3,300 prime lambs 3,700 ewes(LAMBPRO) (Stores) Surplus sheep 0 - 400 0-10%Backgrounding Feeder 0 - 100,000 kg beef cattle (depending onSteers (net) season)
Brief Background Established 1949 (63 years) 3rd generation Ceased showing cattle in 1972 Seedstock Producer of the Year in 1995 Stud run under commercial stress conditions Tightly managed Feed for maintenance – not production Fully recorded on Breedplan Better genetic outcomes for commercial beef producer Run in large management groups High quality genetic data Spring Calving Run at stocking rate Kg Beef produced/Ha focus
160 Pasture Growth Curve - HolbrookPasture Growth Rate (kg DM/Ha) 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 -20 J F M A M J J A S O N D Months
25 Cow energy requirementsCow Energy requirments 20 15 10 Weaning Calving 5 0 J F M A M J J A S O N D Months
160 25 Pasture Growth Curve - HolbrookPasture Growth Rate (kg DM/Ha) 140 Cow Energy requirements 20 120 100 15 80 60 Calving 10 Weaning 40 20 5 0 -20 J F M A M J J A S O N D 0 Months
THE PRODUCTION SYSTEM A Cow Herd Focus Litmus test of genetics Disciplined Approach to Breeding All cattle run under commercial stress conditions All cows and heifers joined for 6 weeks only All heifers must have a live unassisted calf at 2 years All cows must bring a live unassisted calf through to weaning; every year! “All cattle that fail these strict fertility hurdles are culled from the breeding herd – there are no favourites”
GENETICS High Level Performance Program Long history of selection Renown as one of the most well-recorded Hereford herds using Breedplan (5 rating) Over 9,000 recorded cows and 6,000 birthweight records Cattle run and recorded in large management groups A leading Hereford herd for genetic gain & genetic merit ($7 gain/year - Grain-fed $Index) “A true genetic program, focussed on breeding, not feeding!”
THE PRODUCT Commercially focussed sale stock Grass-fed bulls – naturally grown Not over-fat and prone to early breakdown Client friendly Helmsman sale Spring and Autumn All bulls independently assessed for structure and breeding soundness Breed leading genetics 2010 born bulls average in the top 10% of the breed for all $Indices. Top 5% for Grain-fed & Grass-fed $Index “What you see is what you get!”
Breeding/Mating Heifers joined at 14-15 months to calve as 2 year olds Tight calving spread – Mate for 6 weeks only Cows must also rejoin in a six week period Herd structure Young in age Genetic gain production efficiency age related problems Retain at least 90% of heifers for mating Sell cows over 8 years old (in steady state) Management Screening & selection policies A disciplined (but simple) approach – “Cow herd hurdles” Cull for fertility – no exceptions and no favourites Easy-care cattle Easy calving cattle (Management & Genetics) – target <5% dystocia in heifers - Zero tolerance culling policy Non-interventionist - “Bad luck repeats itself” Feed efficient – Cope with high stocking rate (“ride the condition score roller- coaster”) Genetics is important!
Calving Ease since 1984Calving Ease Wirruna vs Overall Breed Average(Direct) EBV+6.0 Calving Ease (Dir) WPHS+5.0 Breed Trend - Calving Ease (Dir)+4.0+3.0+2.0+1.0+0.0 Calving ease is an important trait that influences beef herd profitability. -1.0 Wirruna breed specifically designed heifer bulls for ease of calving. -2.0 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 Genetic Trend
BENDING THE GROWTH CURVE EBV (kgs) Comparison of Wirruna Growth EBVs over time70 WPHS 2010 Moderate Push early growth 61.9 WPHS 2000 Mature Cow60 WPHS 1990 Weight WPHS 1980 5050 45.840 Maintain moderate birthweights 27.730 26.3 24.820 17.110 10.9 20 2.1 Birth 200 day 400 day 600 day Mat cow Weight growth growth weight weight
COMPARISON OF $INDEX VALUES Wirruna Sale Bulls vs Overall Breed Average EBV (kgs)$120 $99 $98 Top 5% $103$100 $89 Top 5% $96 $90 Top 5% $90 Top 5% $87 $80 $73 $65 $66 $60 $60 Wirruna Sale Bulls average in the top Wirruna Sale Bulls $40 10% of the breed for $Index Breed Average EBVs Breeds Top 5% $20 $0 Supermarket Grass fed Grain Fed EU