Closed herd swing boosts Perth A-As
By Jeremy Hunt
SUCKLED calf producers in Perth to buy bulls next week are expected to consider the ability of new sires to produce replacement heifers as more beef producers move towards a closed herd policy.
The entry of just over 1000 bulls includes 168 Aberdeen-Angus – the breeds biggest Perth turnout for over 20 years – many of which will be selected to produce suckler herd replacements.
Bob Anderson, Aberdeen- Angus Society secretary, says 60% of next weeks entry will have BLUP figures to assist buyers considering traits such as milking ability.
"Accuracy on milking ability will increase with time but I would suggest that bulls showing a 35%-plus accuracy for this trait are providing a worthwhile indication," says Mr Anderson.
He advises bull buyers with female replacements in mind to ask questions of vendors about longevity and to take account of the type of cow the Angus bull will be used on.
"A bull to use on a Hereford-cross cow will not suit a Simmental cross. Consider the size of the Angus cross you want to breed. Dont sacrifice conformation just because females are your priority and dont make ill-informed decisions based on the percentage of imported breeding in a bulls pedigree."
Leading Lanarkshire Limousin breeder Norman Cruickshank says buyers would be foolish to be swayed by 200-day milk figures which he feels are still inaccurate.
"We have just imported a bull from France with exceptionally high milk figures specifically to breed females. The French system is based on calf weight at 120 days which is more accurate.
"Buyers with suckler heifer replacements in mind should not go for bulls with extreme shape but they must take note of BLUP ease of calving figures which are now becoming more relevant," says Mr Cruikshank who has 13 bulls at Perth next week.
A big swing towards Simmental-sired suckler replacements prompts breed secretary David Gaunt to advise bull buyers to look closely at pedigrees as an indication of milking ability.
He says that bulls with pedigrees containing sires marked "Imp" indicates an import. That alone confirms there are sufficient milking records in the breeding for good milk production to benefit a commercial suckler cow. Where no "Imp" is noted buyers should ask the vendor for detailed information about the animals milking ability.
"Sadly the 200-day EBV for milk is not such a robust figure at the present time and buyers should not base their decisions solely on this information because of the low accuracy levels," says Mr Gaunt.
He recommends buyers draw up a short-list of 10-15 bulls and, even if seeking female breeding traits, they should still concentrate on those with a beef value above the breed average.
• Perth bull sales run from Mon-Thur, Feb 3-6. For more details , see Stock &Sales Update, p27.
Aberdeen-Angus entries at Perth will be up on last year – its set to be- the breeds biggest Perth turn-out for over 20 years.
• Beef value above average
• Accuracy on milking EBV.
• Consider calving ease figures
• Dont sacrifice conformation