Nov 10 2011
To grow the best beef in the world you must have the best bulls, the best cows, and the best environment.
We think we have the best environment – and stock that are not just ethically raised – they are loved and cherished! Being grass fed – they are very high in omega 3’s and 6’s – healthy essential fatty acids.
Its easy to get the best bulls in the world – they are available as semen straws – to AI into your cows.
Its very hard to get the best cows in the world. Those who have them don’t want to sell them to you, unless you have megabucks, which I haven’t got.
So – the only way to improve your herd at a rate much faster than the normal rate of genetic improvement is to use only your very top cows for your replacements, and to give them fertility drugs to produce more than one embryo, and to implant these embryos into your lesser cows – who act as surrogates.
My desire is to have purebred Angus cows – to cross with Piedmontese to create “super beef” (more tender, more tasty and more healthy). So I need to keep developing a pure Angus herd – and to ultimately have the finest Angus cows in the world. At the same time I will keep breeding the best Piedmontese bulls – using the very best Italian semen.
I paid a lot of money a couple of years ago to get some good quality Angus cows They were in calf to a pure Angus bull of outstanding genetics – and the pure Angus progeny are now 15 months old. I had them ultrasound scanned for fat cover; marbling (inter muscular fat) and eye muscle area. To my pleasant surprise, I found that they rate very highly (top 10% of all cattle scanned in New Zealand).
So this year I will flush the mothers of the three best scanned animals – and implant the embryos into surrogate cows. These will be pure Angus embryos. My aim is to get 20 odd in calf cows, and to also have spare embryos to implant into cows early next season. We will flush one cow now (who is ready) and then follow up with the other two in a months time.
Today is my day to separate off the donor cow and her calf (She already has a CIDR implanted to ensure she does not cycle – its non invasive). We will start a program of fertility drugs on her tomorrow evening. I also have to put CIDRs into all my surrogate cows today, so that they don’t cycle in the next week). We have to time it that they are all on heat at identical times (give or take a day, which is OK).
At the end of next week, the donor cow will be AIed with three straws of the very best Angus genetics in Australasia (marbling genetic EBVs of +4.4 versus an average in the Angus breed of just +.9). I have my fingers crossed that she will produce some embryos (it’s very expensive if she doesn’t).
I won’t flush the three best Angus 15 month old heifers (who probably have better genetics). Its better that they have a calf naturally, first. I will still AI them with the same fantastic genetics – and also improve my herd this way as well. Today these heifers also get tail painted, so I can detect when they come on heat – ready for AI.
So that’s my take on how to grow the best beef in the world. Its a slow process, but one that is much quicker than running the same old cows with the same old bulls. If you really want to produce the best beef in the world – you must have a plan – its doesn’t just happen! I just wish that all New Zealand sheep and beef farmers felt the same way. Its only then that we could truly say we grow the best beef in the world. We don’t – and I wish NZ Lamb and Beef would stop saying we do!