Proof of breeding in calf testing

The Weekly Times | Fiona Myers | August 30, 2013

Tested and true: Sue Holdsworth with star bull, Warwick Court Epic, at Jindera's Warwick Court Hereford and Poll Hereford stud.

Tested and true: Sue Holdsworth with star bull, Warwick Court Epic, at Jindera’s Warwick Court Hereford and Poll Hereford stud.

THERE are ways and means of marketing your bulls.

For Jindera’s Warwick Court Hereford and Poll Hereford stud, it’s through the breed’s progeny test scheme.

With five of their bulls being tested at the moment, the NSW Riverina stud of Bob, Sue and Katie Holdsworth has more sires in the program than any other stud in Australia.

And that, Bob said, was starting to fulfil the stud’s aim of bringing more attention to the cattle they breed.

“It’s a great promotional tool for our genetics and it provides a means of proving these bulls in the commercial environment,” he said.

At $2000 for each bull, progeny testing is not cheap but it is worthwhile, Bob said.

“We are starting to receive inquires for bulls from a wider range of buyers,” he said.

The Warwick Court stud was established in 1981 when Bob and Sue bought a Poll Hereford sire, Cannawigra Apulent 35, and six Hereford cows at the Palermo Hereford and Poll Hereford dispersal.

More cattle were added to their herd from Ballina Herefords at their production sale and then their dispersal in 1989.

When the Holdsworths bought their Jindera property in 1991, the stud kicked up a gear with room to run more cattle.

They took the chance at various dispersal sales to secure high quality females in particular, including 22 at the Maybank sale, 37 at the Glentrevor Hereford sale and others from Brigundi Poll Hereford stud, Caiwarro Hereford stud and Lyonbank stud.

It allowed the herd to build to 180 cows, which Bob said were all in the top 30 per cent of Herefords in BreedPlan figures.

When these cows are joined to bulls that rate in the top 10 per cent for Breedplan, the results are at the genetic pointy end.

Each year, Warwick Court leaves just 20 bull calves.

The remainder run as steers, which adds another element to the commercial credibility of the stud.

Steers are run until they are about 15-16 months then marketed either to feedlots or through prime markets at 420-490kg.

“These steers in recent years have been scanned for intra-muscular fat and eye muscle area to improve the information within BreedPlan,” Bob said.

The stud hasn’t always been on BreedPlan, joining in 1992, and figures are used to help select bull calves to keep.

It has also helped fine tune sire selections to achieve the stud’s aims for gains in EMA and IMF.

“What we do select against is a poor birth weight to 600-day ratio,” Bob said. “We want growth in our bulls. We also want average birthweight but to be right up there with eye muscle area and intramuscular fat.”

It’s clear their breeding strategy is working. Of the 20 Hereford and Poll Hereford bulls they have for private sale this spring, all index within the top 20 per cent of the breed.

With a new crop of calves being born now, Bob is excited about how the stud is progressing and already has his eyes set on a bull calf just a week old.

When he entered the sire and dam into BreedPlan, the figures were jaw dropping and, unless the bull calf “falls over”, Bob thinks it could well be the best bull the stud has produced to date.

The calf was the result of a joining between Yarram Unique F181 and Warwick Court Chloe E123. With +97 for 600-day weight on the sire side, compared with breed average of +63, and +$133 for the grain-fed index compared with the breed average of $65, the bull’s breeding is clear.

And with similarly high genetics on the dam side, the expected average progeny values of +$121 for the grain-fed index but with a birthweight of just +3.4, the signs are good.

Bob always wants to use the best genetics available and is keen to have a genetic spread in his herd.

It means his bulls have been welcomed into the progeny testing program run by Herefords Australia as they offer some different groupings of genetics than the norm. He sees a big future in Herefords, if breeders can get their game right.

“The EU and pasture fed markets will be ideal in the next couple of years,” he said.

Warwick Court bulls are now for sale through private selection.