EARLY indications from a comprehensive crossbreeding trial are indicating solid production benefits to black baldy cattle, including maternal benefits such as earlier cycling.
With the first calves from the research, which uses a mix of leading Hereford and Angus sires over Angus females, due to be processed in the next few months in Tasmania, raw data is pointing to verification of long-held producer assertions around the commercial value of the cross.
More than 400 winter and spring drop 2015 steers and heifers from the first cohort of the Herefords Australia trials have just been through ultrasound scans for fat depth, eye muscle area and intramuscular fat.
They were also assessed for structure and temperament, and had their 400-day liveweights collected.
Along with their birth weights and weaning weights (200 day), the data is currently being scientifically analysed through the University of Adelaide but Herefords Australia’s breed development manager Andrew Donoghue said early signs and anecdotal evidence suggested there was a commercial advantage in the black baldy.
He said the cohort one steers and heifers looked well, with the grass finished steers due for processing at Greenhams in Smithton Tasmania in March or April.
The cattle are grazing cocksfoot, phalaris, sub clover and fescue pastures.
The sisters of the steers that will be processed in autumn have had three ovarian scans to determine age at puberty.
Mr Donoghue said the work was about looking at quantifying not just the benefits of the F1 steer, but the maternal benefits to the F1 female.
That is, whether they cycle at a younger age, have a higher conception rate and do they produce calves that are stronger performers relative to straightbreds, he said.
“There are plenty of theories but we are looking at getting that hard data and evidence,” Mr Donoghue said.
The cattle are being grazed at Cape Portland and Nabowla under the management of Musselroe Beef.
The Black Baldy trial is a partnership between Herefords Australia, Adelaide University, Meat and Livestock Australia and Musselroe Beef.
It has received 50 per cent co-operative funding over an initial three-year period from the MLA Donor Company.
Live, carcass and meat eating quality data will be collected on the progeny through the supply chain, from birth to slaughter, along with reproductive capacity data on the female black baldy progeny.
Females were artificially joined to 11 industry-leading Hereford sires, along with leading Angus sires also used in the Angus BIN as a comparison in cohort one of the the project.