Strict breeding program ensures quality

Turnbull's strict breeding program ensures quality Angus steers

Stock and Land Beef
TOP QUALITY: Dick Turnbull, Blairgowrie, Holbrook, NSW, runs 400 breeding females and uses Reiland Angus genetics.

TOP QUALITY: Dick Turnbull, Blairgowrie, Holbrook, NSW, runs 400 breeding females and uses Reiland Angus genetics.

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A fine-tuned breeding program ensures Dick and Jenny Turnbull's Angus steers are sought after.

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A fine-tuned breeding program at Blairgowrie, Holbrook, NSW, ensures owners/managers Dick and Jenny Turnbull's Angus steers are sought after from feedlots.

The Turnbulls use Reiland genetics because the stud aims to produce easy doing, fertile cattle that perform on pasture and in feedlots.

"They focus on industry relevant traits while avoiding extremes that can negatively impact a productive and fertile commercial cow herd," he said.

"They hold their condition well in dry times and get back in calf, with my percentage of cows pregnancy tested in calf from a nine-week joining around 96 per cent."

Bulls are selected on EBVs that fit Mr Turnbull's criteria, supported by a visual inspection on sale day.

Structural soundness is paramount to his breeding objectives, and he prefers deep-bodied bulls with plenty of length and muscle.

"I normally start by looking for bulls with below breed average EBVs for birth weight and positive calving ease as our bulls always start being used over the heifers," he said.

"Growth EBVs are important and I look for above breed average EBVs for 200, 400 and 600-day weight with emphasis on 400 and 600 days, while trying to maintain mature cow weights as close to breed average as possible.

"When it comes to carcase traits I look for average to slightly above average EMA and above breed average for IMF.

"I try to keep EBVs for fat cover around breed average to slightly positive, as this is an indicator of easy doing animals whose female progeny are likely to get back in calf more easily."

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The Turnbulls run 500 breeding females and have been doing artificial insemination (AI) on heifers for two years using bulls with higher EBVs to improve their genetics.

"We back up the AI program by putting bulls back with heifers for the next two cycles, this allows us some latitude in case there is a problem with the AI and pregnancy rates are not as good as we want," he said.

"When scanning the heifers we take off those by AI and then those to the bulls and split them in the two cycles allowing me to keep the first cycle calves by the bull if I need more heifers PTIC."

Cows are joined for 10 weeks, scanned and then split into the first four weeks followed by two groups covering the next two cycles, so those calving on the second cycle can be kept if numbers are down.

"Dividing the scanned cows and heifers into cycles also allows me to control feed intake closer to calving and keep the later calving cows and heifers up in the hills off better feed for longer than the earlier calvers," Mr Turnbull said.

"Those cows and heifers calving in the last three-week cycle are sold PTIC in autumn.

"Any cow or heifer that does not raise a live calf or requires assistance to calve is sold."

Blairgowrie heifer calves are grown out on pasture so they reach maturity and can be joined by AI at 12-months, this gives them extra time to start cycling before being joined for a second time.

Excess PTIC heifers are sold either on AuctonsPlus or through the Reiland female sale in autumn.

Steer production is aimed at the feedlot market when steers reach a weight of 450 kilograms plus depending on the season and prices.

Blairgowrie pastures are mostly improved perennial mixes of phalaris, ryegrass and clover with some lucerne mixed in to provide summer feed where it will persist.

"We also have 220ha of hill country - mostly native pasture - that is used for cattle during their last trimester of pregnancy," Mr Turnbull said.

"This is to reduce the growth of the foetus and prevent calving difficulties.

"These hills are also utilised following the autumn break to optimise growth on the remainder of the property."

Young cattle are grown out on winter cereal crops and improved pasture over spring.

"Some silage supplementation is carried out if the season requires it to get to the required weight and to finish them off," Mr Turnbull said.

"Calves are weaned onto silage that is either produced on-farm from early sown oats and ryegrass crops used for grazing weaner cattle through winter or purchased in if the season is against us."

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