Derby and Evo.

Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Around the farm

Tataila Evolution & Tataila Derby

As with most cattle breeding enterprises, there are some essential elements. For us, that’s bulls. Meet the lads currently in residence at Lucerne Grove.

On the left is Tataila Evolution (aka Evo, 3.5 years old) and on the right is Tataila Derby (aka Derby, 4.5 years old), both bred by Ham Family Shorthorns at Moama.

On this particular day these lads were having a disagreement. It all started when we wanted to bring a mob of cows and calves home to the yards.  Evo was in the mob we were mustering and was happily ambling along when Derby jumped a fence to eyeball him. Who knows, perhaps Derby didn’t like the way Evo looked at him. More than likely in true bull fashion there was the need to be number 1 bull. The disagreement started in the paddock, continued in the big dirt yard and finished with both lads feeling very stiff and sore, each in solitary confinement in different sections of the yards for a week.

For those unfamiliar with all things cow, unless you run an AI (artificial insemination) program then you have to have bulls.  How many you have depends on how many cows you have – yes, there is a science behind how many cows one bull can join (technical term for a bull getting a cow in calf) and the age and size of your bulls depends on whether you are joining heifers (first time mums) or cows.  There is also a science behind how you select which bull will suit your needs at the time of purchase by using what are known as Estimated Breed Values (aka EBVs).

Each breed of beef cattle in Australia has their own set of EBVs for that breed – while the EBV categories are the same across the board, the standard for each category differs between the breeds. EBVs are published for traits covering birth weight, growth (measured at 200, 400 and 600 days), milking ability, fertility and carcase (eg: eye muscle area, rib fat, rump fat and yield) and are expressed in units of measurement that are positive or negative differences between a particular animal and the standard of that breed.  This results in individual animals being considered above or below the breed average for each particular trait.  EBVs are only estimates but are very useful to us in informing the process of selecting bulls.  We use them in conjunction with a visual assessment of a bull for the other traits we consider to be important, such as structural soundness and temperament – for us it is not an option to have a bull with fantastic EBVs if he is difficult to manage. Because of the nature of our business in breeding Shorthorn cattle for the vealer and feedlot market we particularly look to bulls who have good EBVs for low birth weight (for ease in calving) and good growth rates.

Calves from both bulls started arriving about 6 weeks ago.  Derby’s calves  have so far been true to type and red in colour, easy calving and are of good confirmation. The first calves from Evo (we only bought him last year) will bring some good colour back to our breeding herd with some lovely deep reds and red roans and already look promising for their growth.