Tim Emery’s six steps to better bull buying

Beef Central, 01/09/2020


TROPICAL Beef Technology Services’ Tim Emery believes developing breeding objectives is fundamental for any beef business and can drive genetic direction, productivity and profitability.

“When developing breeding objectives, it’s important to have a clear understanding of how your herd is currently performing, where you want to go, what markets you’re targeting and the environmental constraints at play,” he said.

Tim Emery

“Having the objectives actually written down can assist with having all those involved in the business on the same page.

“And, just because you write them down once, doesn’t mean they can’t change. Reviewing and refining them over time with all parties involved in the business is a key step.”

Tim (pictured) recommends focusing on Estimated Breeding Values and understanding what they mean and how they work.

“EBVs are a free tool, they’re available for anyone to use and they can assist producers make an informed, objective decision about their future genetic direction,” he said.

“They shouldn’t be used in isolation, but instead in conjunction with fertility, structural soundness and temperament.”

To help northern beef producers fine‑tune their approach to buying new genetics and the bull buying process, Tim suggests:

  • Developing breeding objectives and knowing what traits are important for your own operation.
  • Determine the selection index and individual EBVs of most relevance to you. This involves knowing exactly what you want to use the bulls for, e.g. using over heifers or cows, terminal use, producing replacement females or producing progeny for a target market.
  • Do your homework. Most of the genetics planning should take place in the office. Use the Breedplan website to sort available options based on selection index and individual EBVs relevant to your business.
  • The reproductive performance of dams can be investigated, along with genetic conditions in some instances.
  • Talk at length with seedstock producers and obtain data prior to the sale – ask about their breeding objectives and joining window, seek BULLCHECK certificates and ask about their vaccination, biosecurity and feeding programs.
  • Go to the sale with a list of bulls you are confident in (based on EBVs and BullCheck certificates) and then spend the majority of your time assessing temperament and structure. Put a line through those that aren’t suitable.




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  1. Brett McCamley, 01/09/2020

    Tim, You like everyone one else who espouse the diatribe that is Breedplan and estimated values, fail to point out that more important than the figures that are plucked from thin air are the ACCURACIES. Anyone who is involved in this perverted over use of MLA funding, will tell you, is anything below 92% is not worth the paper it is written on. Truth in advertising is something that eludes the Breedplan brand. Add to the fact that it is far from being free and would easily be one of the worst tools for sire selection as you can only compare animals within a contemporary group.

  2. John Gunthorpe, 01/09/2020

    Well explained Tim. However, we should expect beef producers to be able to use EBVs to compare bull performance no matter the breed or multiple breeds. When will we catch up to the rest of the world and offer one EBV database for all sires no matter the breed. We should be able to compare a Droughtmaster sire with a Santa or Angus sire. At present breed societies jealously guard their data on BreedPlan making it almost impossible to compare sires across breeds or cross breeds.
    Australian Cattle Industry Council

  3. Ismael, 23/09/2019

    Thanks valuable

  4. Geoff Maynard, 18/09/2019

    Breedplan is not free tool Tim , collecting the data submitting it in correct format and paying the analytical fees , comes at a reasonable costs .
    This has to be factored in any pricing structure .

    Plus , hybrid vigour is the only free lunch the industry has . Maximising hybrid vigour , is also a step in the process , that could be incorporated . It’s production improvements are substantial and immediate .

    • Bim Struss, 19/09/2019

      Geoff I know where Tim is coming from……..when purchasing replacement sires, logging into Breedplan to determine the traits that best suit your herd is free. We have used Tim’s advice for a number of years to source replacement bulls, and we can not be more satisfied with the results.
      As our industry moves towards value based marketing, it is becoming increasing important to source sires that will add value to your herd.

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