9 November 2001

Good growth and calving possible

DAILY growth rates of 1.5kg/head and good conformation can be achieved without using beef bulls likely to cause calving problems, according to the results of an SAC trial.

SAC beef specialist Basil Lowman says trial, organised by the British Charolais Cattle Society, proves estimated breeding values for growth and performance can be combined with low levels of calving problems.

The results highlight the ability of EBVs to enable bull buyers to select a sire which will leave fast maturing progeny with superior conformation without incurring calving difficulties.

"Getting to grips with EBVs will pay hands down for commercial beef producers trading animals in the coming weeks.

"EBVs are becoming common language between buyers and sellers and can help producers define their stock more accurately. Thats a big advantage in a season when so much stock is being traded through video sales."

The SAC trial was intended to test EBVs for calving value. It involved a pair of Charolais bulls run with the Bush Estates suckler herd at Penicuik. One had a calving value of CH0 and a beef value of CH40, while the second bulls respective figures were CH4 and CH30.

Interim results disproved previous findings that associated high EBVs for calving value with poorer growth and carcass traits.

"Sires can be identified to leave bull calves with growth rates averaging 1.5kg/day in the first five months and heifer calves averaging 1.2kg. This performance is achieved alongside good conformation and without calving problems.

Intensive system

The progeny of the two bulls on the trial were taken through to finishing on an intensive system and slaughtered at 12.5 months.

Calves sired by the bull with the beef value of CH40 achieved an average sale value of £570/head – an average of £17/head more than those by the sire with the beef value of CH30.

"Heifers sired by the bull with the higher beef value gained weight worth 124p/day – 9p/day more than heifers by the bull with the lower beef value bull," calculates Mr Lowman. &#42