28 June 2002

Size not everything for a good carcass

BALANCING the increasing demand for performance figures among bull buyers, while maintaining a high degree of conformation appeal is the challenge facing Lancs Simmental breeders Jimmy and Vikki Wood.

"As a butcher I know what I need from a beef carcass. While we need to maintain size in the breed, it has often appeared to be more important than anything else in the show ring," says Jimmy Wood. "Simmental breeders must prioritise important beef conformation traits, such as length and hindquarter."

Although the Woods only run 20 cows in their Popes herd they won the supreme Simmental championship and sold for the top price of 12,000gns at Perth this spring.

Their bull visually pleased the judge and the ringside, but it also had a Beef Value of 36, the second highest in the sale yard.

The herd was established in the 1980s and based on some of the Simmental breeds most renowned cow families including the Lotties from Revelex and the Cadettes from Cloford. The Woods also have a full sister to the breeds leading sire, Brinkton Brilliant.

"Cow families have always been very important," says Mrs Wood. "But now pedigrees must be balanced with good figures when youre selecting bulls. Figures are becoming increasingly important among buyers looking for Simmentals to produce suckler replacements."

The cows in the Popes herd have an average Beef Value of 28, putting the herd in the top 10%. The top scoring cow – dam of the 12,000gns bull Popes Laird – has a beef Value of 34.

But the Woods make no bones about their policy on selecting bulls. "If a bull had a Beef Value of 36 and it did nothing for us visually we would not use it. No suckled calf producer or pedigree breeder is going to pay a high price for a bull that he does not like the look of just because its figures are impressive."

Although some German and Austrian breeding has been evident in the Popes herd, the Woods are keen to retain the influence of Swiss genetics for higher milk yield. "Milk figures are certainly inportant among suckled calf producers intending to retain heifers as replacements," says Mrs Wood. &#42