The first Australian seedstock sale carrying any significant numbers of UltraBlack ‘tropically adapted Angus’ has produced a result well above pre-sale expectations, with an even line of 179 PTIC registered heifers averaging better than $1760 at auction.
One of the prominent drivers behind the UltraBlack breeding movement in Australia, Euan and Kay Murdoch’s Nindooinbah enterprise near Beaudesert, held its inaugural stud female sale on Friday before an enthusiastic bidding gallery.
Nindooinbah is the focus for one of Australia’s largest and most intensive embryo transfer and AI breeding programs, generating large numbers of Angus, Brangus and UltraBlack calves, using elite US and Australian genetics.
The term ‘UltraBlack’ refers to a composite Angus-derived animal carrying 18pc Bos Indicus, via a three-eighths Brangus sire used over a purebred Angus. Ultimately the composite will be stabilised through multi-generation breeding. To see Beef Central's previous article, click here.
Friday’s inaugural female sale was something of an acid test for the breed type, which aims to provide a higher level of adaptation than Angus for use in northern breeding herds, while preserving high carcase merit and fertility.
With no previous volume sales of UltraBlack cattle sales in Australia to benchmark expectations on, some buyers attended Friday’s sale with an anticipation of paying around $1200-$1300 to secure foundation heifers, but were pushed considerably further than that by sustained bidding strength on the day.
The sale saw a total clearance of 179 UltraBlack heifers, rising 18 months of age and PTIC to quality UltraBlack, Angus or three-eighth Brangus sires. Buyers were active from the Atherton Tablelands and Charters Towers in North Queensland, a wide area of the Darling Downs, South Burnett, Mary Valley and southeast Queensland regions, and south as far as Walgett in NSW.
Cattlemen operating remotely via AuctionsPlus also lent solid support, with more than 20 users logged-on from a wide area of NSW and Queensland. Main AuctionsPlus bidding strength came from Walgett (NSW), Dalby and Kingaroy districts in Queensland.
Top-priced heifer at $2800 was Nindooinbah F175, an August 2010 AI calf by well-rated US Brangus sire Suhns Next Step 331R7, out of the Lawsons Angus dam, Lawsons Gar Tank B1445. The heifer was PTIC to Burtins Transformer (US). The buyer was an AuctionsPlus client, Thendara Pastoral Co, Charters Towers.
Next best at $2750 was an ET daughter of Ltd of Brinks 415T28 (US), out of donor Angus cow, Lawsons Yield Grade A470. She was sold in-calf to Brangus sire, Csonka of Brinks (US) to volume buyer, Ian Cameron, Cameron UltraBlacks, the Gums, on Queensland’s western Darling Downs. Cameron UltraBlacks put together a line of 29 heifers for an $1891 average.
A price of $2600 was achieved twice, firstly for a Lambert of Brinks (US) ET daughter out of Lawsons Henry VIII, bought by Ian Francis Training Stables, Widgee; and again for a Csonka of Brinks (US) AI daughter out of Lawsons Integrity A1906, bought by long-distance buyer, Stephen Pearce, Telpara Hills Brangus Stud, Atherton, North Queensland.
A number of volume buyers operated at the sale, putting together lines of UltraBlack heifers for different applications (see buyers’ comments provided in a separate article).
Among them were:
- Cameron Angel, Belbroughton Holdings, Gympie, who bought 25 UltraBlack heifers averaging $1752
- Lindore family, Melrose Station, Killarney – 38 heifers averaging $1757
- Bydand Pastoral Co, Beaudesert – 17 U/B heifers and Angus cows avg $2185
- Claudia Holdings, Tallebudgera – 19 U/B heifers and Angus cows avg $1723
- Justin and Kate Boshammer, Elgin, Condamine – 12 U/B heifers and Angus cows avg $2329
- Steve Taylor, Moriah, Chinchilla – 13 UltraBlack heifers avg $1369
- Gary Edwards, Edwards Rural Solutions, operating for various NSW clients – 18 heifers and cows avg $1888
- Jondaryan Angus, Jondaryan – 11 females avg $2181
- Doyle Group, Undabri, Goondiwindi – 38 heifers and cows avg $1565
- Australian Bonsmara, Beaudesert – 12 heifers avg $1700
- Thendara Pastoral Co, Charters Towers – 18 heifers avg $1866
- Leister Calvert, Dalby – 13 females avg $1800.
The market was a little less consistent for the sale’s lineup of quality, Lawsons-bred stud Angus cows, and cows and calves.
Displaying great depth of breeding and performance recording, the cows mostly ranged in age from five to eight years, and included elite former ET donors in the top 5pc of EBVs for the Angus breed, now surplus to Nindooinbah’s requirements. Many of the Angus females were joined to some of the best Angus bulls in the business.
The Angus PTIC cow portion of the catalogue saw 101 cows sold to average $1975, while seven stud Angus cows and calves averaged $2107.
Top price in the Angus cow section was $4750 paid for Lawsons New Design Z1090, a 2004 drop AI daughter of Bon View New Design 1407, out of Lawsons RockN D Ambush. She was sold, in calf to Te Mania Africa A21, to PJ Derrick and CE Roberts, Veresdale, via Beaudesert.
Next best at $4500 was paid by prominent Angus breeders Justin and Kate Boshammer for Lawsons Henry VIII, a 2004-drop cow by Ythanbrae Henry VIII, re-mated to Te Mania Africa.
In total, Nindooinbah’s inaugural female sale saw 287 head sold for a gross of $529,300 to average $1884. Agents: Elders Stud Stock.
Friday's UltraBlack heifer buyers comment on their reasons for purchase …
Stephen Pearce, Telpara Hills, Atherton, North Qld:
Stephen Pearce sees UltraBlacks providing an extension for his existing Brangus seedstock business, based at Atherton in far North Queensland.
“UltraBlacks for us offer a pretty unique opportunity to fill our goal of delivering a tropically-adapted Angus into a range of northern Australian markets,” he said.
“For those bull clients in the tick-free zone of the Mitchell/Flinders grass downs country, from Hughenden west, we see a real opportunity for UltraBlack bulls to work over those Brahman-type cows that survive well in that environment, but do not necessarily offer the broadest range of market opportunities.”
“One of the comments we frequently hear back from clients in that region is that those Angus bulls are going out and doing as great job in terms of calf-getting, but that they are burning out – it’s a fraction too tough for them. We see the UltraBlack, either in its current form, or mated to a three-eighths Brangus to provide a little higher adaptation, offering heterosis over the Brahman cow, slick coat, better heat tolerance and adaption, while injecting some carcase quality back into the calves,” Mr Pearce said.
“We know the Australian cow herd is moving further north, yet the progeny of those breeders is increasingly coming back into the southern feeder market. We’re now seeing three prices in grower cattle: a Brahman price, a crossbred price, and a Black price. For that reason we see a strong future for UltraBlacks and three-eighths Brangus in different geographic areas of northern and western Queensland.”
Mr Pearce said Friday’s Nindooinbah Female Sale was really about ‘testing the waters’ for the UltraBlack tropically-adapted breed type in Australia.
“They have been tremendously successful in the southern regions of the US, and this sale is a turning point for them in Australia,” he said.
Steve Taylor, Moriah, Chinchilla (13 heifers):
“It’s an experiment for us as this stage, but I am highly supportive of the genetic progress that the Angus breed has made, and this is being transferred into these UltraBlack cattle, which are heavily influenced by objective measurement on carcase and production traits,” Steve Taylor said.
He will establish a multiplication breeding nucleus at his Chinchilla property, Moriah, to produce herd bulls for use on his breeding property, Wetlands, near Augathella, in central western Queensland. Currently, the Taylors are running a ‘parallel’ herd bull generation unit based on Angus bulls over Brahman-influenced females.
“One of the big attractions in these UltraBlacks is the sheer depth of objective measurement on carcase, fertility and productivity traits they carry,” he said. “We have to have function as well as adaptation, but the carcase data, also, is paramount.”
“I believe the real travel of Angus traits into the north is going to be carried by animals carrying some adaptation, so this (UltraBlacks) is a really positive direction to take,” he said.
“We’re in a tick-free area at Augathella, so parasite challenge is not the issue, but a slick coat, a little bit more leg and mobility above the pure Angus I think is going to be very positive. And it’s incrementally going to move its way further north as those producers seek a more versatile animal, suited to different markets.”
Mr Taylor said another desirable trait that was not ‘glaringly obvious’ was the animals’ natural poll gene.
“Animal welfare issues are knocking on our door, and with the Angus breed type, it’s impossible to buy a horned one, with no recessive impediment.”
“I’d be the last one to criticise Brahman cattle – they have made tremendous inroads into northern Australia’s harsher environments – however each beef producer’s charter is the linkage between their particular environment, and the consumers’ plate. These cattle are the conduit to do that more successfully,” he said.
Cameron Angel, Belbroughton Holdings, Gympie (25 heifers):
Cameron Angel will use his foundation UltraBlack heifers to breed commercial herd bulls for use over Brahman breeders on his leased country further north and west in Central Queensland.
“I’m looking for meat quality and fertility, and these heifers have been heavily measured and selected for these traits, through their background,” he said.
“There is some predictability about them that is hard to find in other options, meaning we know with greater confidence how they will perform. And that little bit of adaptation will just give them an edge over straight Angus bulls in Central Queensland.”
“I monitor and measure everything I do in my own cattle, and that’s a key reason I came to buy these UltraBlacks – because of the depth of performance recording they carry.”
“As a line of sale stud heifers, they were also extraordinary even,” he said.