Hereford steers in the breed’s national progeny test project have averaged in the top five per cent of all cattle graded on the Meat Standards Australia Index for eating quality.
The spring 2014 drop steers were part of the Cohort 4 of Herefords Australia progeny test project and grainfed at Tullimba feedlot, in northern NSW, for 100 days.
The 55 steers were also tested over 70 days for net feed intake.
They were processed at John Dee Warwick on February 25 and graded on the MSA Index at an average of 63.62 – ranking in the top five per cent of all cattle graded nationally in 2014-2015.
The top score on the MSA Index was 66.26, or the top one per cent. The industry average for 2014-2015 was 57.61.
The MSA Index is a number between 30 and 80 representing the eating quality potential of a whole carcase.
The MSA Index is independent of any processing inputs and is calculated using only the attributes influenced by pre-slaughter production.
Up to 50 young Hereford bulls of high genetic merit are tested across six different cohorts using co-operator herds from Queensland to South Australia under the Herefords Australia progeny test project.
It is being run with co-funding from Meat & Livestock Australia Member Donor Company under the Beef Information Nucleus program.
The Cohort 4 steers were backgrounded at Holbrook, in southern NSW, and had an average carcase weight of 332.55kg with a maximum of 409.4kg.
Herefords Australia chairman Pat Pearce said board members inspected the steers at Tullimba during grain finishing.
“They were an even line of steers by 10 sires and out of commercial cow herds,’’ Mr Pearce said.
“The average rib fat depth at 12mm was ideal on the carcases – it showed Herefords are able to put on red meat while maintaining adequate fat.
“They were a good line of commercial oriented steers that are sought after by the trade.’’
Mr Pearce said carcases with a higher MSA Index would have higher beef eating quality scores for many cuts.
He said commercial producers could access MSA feedback on individual carcase traits and evaluate changes in their business to drive a faster rate of gain in eating quality.
Data collected on the progeny test calves includes growth, fertility, carcase, eating quality and net feed intake.
The progeny will also be genotyped for the progression of Herefords Australia genomics.
Herefords Australia commercial development officer Andrew Donoghue said 1000 females were expected to be artificially inseminated this year under Cohort Six of the project.
The project involves 10-15 Hereford sires artificially joined to commercial cows from co-operator herds each year.
Under Cohort One to Three (2011-2013 drop calves) there was a total of 1272 progeny, comprising 672 steers and 600 heifers across 12 co-operator herds.
The steers have been slaughtered with full progeny performance reports available on-line while the heifers are being measured for their maternal traits.
Cohort Two steers processed in December 2013 averaged 64.55 on the MSA Index, compared to the industry average of 56.77.
Cohort three steers processed in February 2015 at John Dee, Warwick, Qld, averaged 64.77 on the MSA Index.
Overall, Cohorts One to Three have averaged 62.74, placing the steers in the top 10 per cent of the national herd for eating quality.
Cohort Four, comprising the 2014 and 2015 drop calves, resulted in 477 progeny – 254 steers and 223 heifers – from five co-operator herds.
The autumn 2014-drop steers have been slaughtered while the 2015-drop steers are being backgrounded for feedlot entry in mid-year.
Under Cohort Five, 700 cows and heifers in three co-operator herds have been artificially inseminated with the calves due in autumn and spring 2016.
Mr Donoghue said Herefords Australia was committed to continuing the progeny test project whilst funding was available.