IN WHAT may be a beef industry first, 50 Victorian PTIC Angus cows have been listed for sale in Friday’s AuctionsPlus sales with foetal scanning having identified that they are carrying only heifer calves.
Widgeegonga Angus principal Michael Carroll’s innovative marketing strategy has been achieved in partnership with Warrnambool Vet Centre, following scans to determine the sex of embryos in his herd after joining.
The offering will be included as part 116 cows catalogued by Mr Carroll in the Team Te Mania Online Commercial Sale on Friday.
“It works for us to have more steers,” he said. “We specialise in producing high marbling steers for Rangers Valley feedlot. I calve around 280 cows a year and ideally would like to retain around 80 heifer calves and turn off 200 steers,” he said.
The cows were preg tested by veterinarian Matt Dwyer from Warrnambool Vet Centre. Matt is also a dairy farmer and in his own herd has had only one wrong sex diagnosis out of the 200 cows that have calved so far this year.
“Matt says he got three wrong out of 300 last year, so he is very accurate,” Mr Carroll said.
“There is some extra work involved, as the sex can only be diagnosed by ultrasound between eight and twelve weeks, so we had to run 100 of the 400 cows we joined through for a second test four weeks later,” he said.
The heifer pregnancies Mr Carroll is retaining are predicted to average in the top 5pc of the Angus Heavy Grain index.
He said the sale of the PTIC cows carrying heifer calves was a great opportunity for someone wanting to rebuild or upgrade a breeding herd with high performance females.
“For the last 14 years we’ve been retaining 95pc of our heifers and inseminating them to the best young bulls in the Te Mania progeny test program. It’s allowed us to make pretty rapid genetic progress,” he said.
This year Mr Carroll is selling 116 cows to make way for the 125 heifers he put through a fixed time AI program last spring. The other 50 cows being sold are fifth and sixth calvers, being the last and best of this age group on the property, located near Derrinallum in south west Victoria.
The second and fourth calvers being sold as carrying heifer calves are on the Angus Commercial Register and are performance recorded. The Angus Australia mating predictor indicates that the heifer calves, due in August and September, will average in the top 10pc and 15pc of the Heavy Grain Index.
The Widgeegonga Angus herd is a Te Mania progeny test herd and virtually all the sale animals have at least three generations of Te Mania genetics – either stud sires through artificial insemination or progeny test bulls. The heifer calves to be born will be fourth generation.
The recent TransTasman Angus Cattle Evaluation benchmarking report shows Widgeegonga’s cow herd is well above breed average for many important traits.
The cattle are in the 30th percentile for eye muscle area and docility and at the 13th percentile for intramuscular fat.
“They should add value for anyone selling into a Meat Standards Australia index,” Mr Carroll said.
“Our steers are highly sought after by Rangers Valley and as the intramuscular fat EBV has improved (see Figure 1.) so has the chiller assessed marble score. We’re now getting around 30pc of the steers achieving Ausmeat marbling scores of 5 or better, which goes into Rangers’ premium Black Market brand. The balance are going into their Black Onyx brand (see Figure 2).”
Mr Carroll has sold his steers almost exclusively to Rangers Valley for the last 14 years.
“They are rewarding us with a healthy premium over the going rate for feeder steers based on loyalty and performance,” he said.
“Over the last 10 year we’ve received chiller assessment data back from Rangers on 850 steers. This data goes into the TransTasman Angus Cattle Evaluation done by the Agricultural Business Research Institute.
“Along with annual carcase scanning of both the steers and heifers, the chiller assessments improve the accuracy of Te Mania’s EBVs. Te Mania values the carcase feedback and heavily subsidises the semen for the progeny test herds.
The Rangers Valley premium justified the additional cost of performance recording, Mr Carroll said.
“Aiming to increase the proportion of steers that achieve the Black Market minimum Ausmeat 5 or MSA 700 marbling score gives us a clear genetic goal. Performance recording, access to Te Mania’s high accuracy leading genetics, fixed time AI, chiller assessment feedback from Rangers, Angus Australia’s mating predictor and now foetal sexing give us the tools to progress with high degree of precision,” he said.
“If we can keep improving carcase quality and our customer’s profitability the premium we’re receiving should increase.”
- Six long term members of the Te Mania program have 740 cows listed in the annual Team Te Mania commercial female sale on AuctionsPlus on March 6. This sale has been an annual event for the last 10 or so years and coincides with the autumn bull sale.