Meadowslea launches its first female production sale

Meadowslea cows on the hill. Cows are expected to winter on tussock without supplements and produce a top calf every ...

Meadowslea cows on the hill. Cows are expected to winter on tussock without supplements and produce a top calf every year for ten years.

Meadowslea Angus will hold its first female production sale on May 5 and owner David Giddings is urging buyers to recognise the benefits of a stud herd that runs in the hill country, where cows are expected to winter on tussock without supplements and produce a top calf every year for ten years.

Giddings said he had 20 annual draft cows on offer with strong maternal traits.

"These cows calve early every year and also rebreed earlier producing much better calves and have proven longevity and performance."

David Giddlings of Meadowslea stud will hold his first female production sale on May 5.

David Giddlings of Meadowslea stud will hold his first female production sale on May 5.

Giddings said the other significant feature was that very few of the cows had high growth figures.

READ MORE: Strong result for Meadowslea spring bull sale

* Hill survival paramount for Canterbury stud breeder David Giddings

Gerald Hargreaves, of Kakahu Angus stud is a self confessed EBV nut.
Tony Benny

Gerald Hargreaves, of Kakahu Angus stud is a self confessed EBV nut.

*Unabashedly a fan of American angus

*American Angus bloodlines suit the South Island high country

"It is cows with a medium frame and moderate growth figures that perform over time in our environment and clearly the high growth cows have dropped out of the herd over the years, either by being dry or consistently rearing small and late calves, or their constitution has failed along the way."

Giddings said the picture is the same through the younger age group of females on offer with rib fat estimated breeding value (EBV) in particular being in the top ten percent of the breed.

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Kakahu Angus will have 120 angus bulls and 30 charolais bulls up for offer at its sale on June 19. 

The focus on the charolais breed was to bring forward a moderate framed animal with a focus on easy calving with high growth rates, Kakahu owner Gerald Hargreaves said. The stud had introduced strong carcase data with intramuscular fat (IMF) and eye muscle area (EMA) becoming increasingly relevant. Another important trait was carcase weight.

"We think it is very important to get paid well by your procurement company."

Ninety-two per cent of the 120 bulls being brought up for sale were in the top 20 per cent, and 112 were in the top 10 per cent for the all-purpose index (API.) Fifteen of the latter were in the top one per cent.

"What we are excited about is that we have managed to lower mature cow weights whilst increasing growth weights and substantially increasing carcase weights. These traits together equal profitability and efficiency. IMF EBVs are steadily climbing. We are well above the New Zealand average for IMF and EMA."

Giddings said the recent popularity of fodder beet as a winter feed was achieving good results for beef farmers compared with traditional means of feeding.

"Farmers are buying weaner heifers at the autumn calf sales, wintering them on fodder beet on the plains, getting their weight up, and then having the option of getting them in calf come spring."

People were looking to make more money out of beef because it's so good at the moment, he said. 

"A really good entry point for a farmer is to buy heifer calves, winter them well, put a bull to them and a year later calve them. Then you can either sell them as a once-bred heifer to the works, start a herd, or sell them fat."

 Kakahu Angus stud was one of the oldest in Canterbury. It was sold on American genetics and selected its bulls from the United States on an annual visit.

"It's a fallacy American genetics don't work in New Zealand, " Hargreaves said. "It's just a matter of selecting the right bulls."

 "At the end of the day, people say I'm an EBV freak. Of course, I am, but the animal's still got to walk and perform, that's taken for granted."

Hargreaves said the only way to get the highly marbled meat sought by the overseas markets was by introducing the right genetics. It was not enough to have big, well-fed animals if the fat was on the outside, likely to be cut off in processing, and not within the meat itself.

"Subcutaneous fat is expensive to put on and wasteful. Marbling is also a fat, but it adds huge value and consistency to the carcase," he said.

"When you look at the traits of what those bulls are, it's only the feed that's got them looking marvellous."

Hargreaves believe cows in the high country should be of medium build with strong structural soundness, active and with good temperament. 

"A big cow needs more feed and in a bad year will suffer more than the medium one. She will take longer to recover and will have less chance of getting back in calf." 

The only way to run cattle economically is to have them suit the conditions, he said. 

 

 - Stuff

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