A boost of up to nine per cent in weaning weights can be achieved in steers out of Angus females simply by switching to a Hereford bull, according to new Herefords Australia research.
Through a partnership between Herefords Australia, Adelaide University, Meat & Livestock Australia and Musselroe Beef, live, carcase and meat eating quality data is being collected on the progeny through the supply chain, from birth to slaughter, and analysed by University of Adelaide professor Wayne Pitchford.
About 600 commercial Angus females were artificially joined to 11 industry-leading Hereford sires, along with Angus as a comparison, in the latest round of the trial.
Set to finish in December, preliminary results showed Hereford-sired steer calves from maiden cows were three per cent heavier at weaning than Angus-sired calves, while in the mature cows, Hereford-sired steers were nine per cent heavier at weaning over their straight Angus siblings.
Professor Pitchford said using Angus bulls over heifers would reduce the risk of calving difficulties, and using Hereford bulls over mature cows would add growth.
‘‘As an example, if a commercial Angus herd of 100 cows had 20 heifers and 80 mature cows calving, use of Hereford bulls would mean assisting in only an additional three calves, but get the production of an extra 1600kg of weaning weight,’’ Prof Pitchford said.
‘‘We are open to potential challenges but even on weaning weights the increased potential is quite substantial, and we still have carcase weights and female reproductive traits to come.’’
Herefords Australia breed development manager Michael Beattie said carcase and growth information would follow once the final cohort steers were processed.
‘‘The weaning data is evidence of the heterosis effect, with Hereford-sired steer weights nine per cent heavier over straight Angus,’’ Mr Beattie said.
‘‘The trial is quantifying the benefits of heterosis, which commercial black baldy producers have taken advantage of for a long time.
‘‘At the end of the day, it is about producing more kilograms of quality beef per hectare.
‘‘If you can get a nine-plus per cent increase in weaning weight, that adds up to a few extra dollars in the pocket for the producer.’’
Herefords Australia plans to roll out workshops on the economic benefits of black baldy crossbreeding programs during 2019.
Herefords Australia general manager Andrew Donoghue said it was tremendous to see findings of the much-publicised trials conducted in the United States held true under Australian conditions.
■A full report containing all results from the black baldy project is planned to be released in the second half of this year.