17 January 1996

How home replacement offers a beef lifeline…

PURE breeding in a closed herd cuts disease and provides a supply of replacement heifers.

Thats the view of Jedburgh-based Limousin breeder Richard Oates who believes the beef industry is facing a shortage of beef replacements.

He said that in 1983 beef cows numbered 1.3m, needing 250,000 replacements. These were supplied by a dairy herd of 3.3m cows providing 300,000 potential replacements.

"But this year there are only 2.6m dairy cows supplying 250,000 potential replacements for a beef herd of 1.8m cows which require 350,000 replacements.

"Add to this the fact that fewer dairy cows will be inseminated with beef crosses and we could be facing a crisis," said Mr Oates.

"Home-bred beef replacements therefore offer a lifeline and pure breeding from beef crosses can overcome the Holstein cows influence on conformation," he said.

"Poor performance caused by a lack of hybrid vigour can be offset by increased returns from the production of very even batches of calves using sires and dams of the same breed."

Pure breeding also improved returns because surplus females could be sold for breeding and that improving a herds genetics created an appreciating asset.

"Using the same breed of sire and dam reduces the likelihood of calving difficulties and the milking ability of the pure Limousin is also sufficient for rearing good calves," said Mr Oates.

He said that too much milk – as a result of the Holstein influence – caused pressure on the udder, mastitis and udder breakdown.

However, Mr Oates acknowledged that the milk ability of beef breeds needed greater research in the future and a higher profile in estimated breeding values.

Limousin breeder Richard Oates – pure breeding in a closed herd.