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Talking Bull

 

The Elephant is no longer in the room

 

Australia's North looks ahead to Composite beef production.

 

From the rural media and from industry leaders we are starting to hear more about the advantages of true Composite cattle over Brahmans in tropical beef production;

1. The Beef Co-operative Research Centre in 2012 stated a 14% weaning rate advantage from tropical composite cattle against Brahmans, based on nearly a decade of comparative monitoring at their Central Queensland breeding locations. They found tropical Composites had both higher calving rates and higher calf survival.

2. The Cash Cow project showed that Bos Indicus females had a lower percentage pregnant by four months after calving and a higher risk of loss between pregnancy and weaning than Composite females.

3. Beef Central earlier this year reported a 10c / kg live premium for flat-back feeders over Brahman types.

4. In 2011-12 more than 2 Million head of cattle were Meat Standards Australia (MSA) graded, a 45% increase from the year before. Meat and Livestock Australia reported a 24c/kg carcass premium for MSA cattle in Queensland.

5. Several media reports over the last 18 months have highlighted many Indonesian feedlots are now favouring composites over Brahmans.

The financial advantages of cattle that are fertile, flat backed (tender) and polled to all segments of our supply chain are now clearly evident.

Our industry's change in thinking is happening fast, however we can't waste time in changing our herds. There still needs to be more of a shift away from thinking that genetic improvement must come from pure breeds. Whilst producers must consider their individual situation, many herds would be better off quickly changing to high performing tropical Composites, than looking to their current breed to make improvement from within.

The solution required is also unlikely to be using a bull from a popular temperate pure-breed over a portion of a Brahman cow herd as a terminal sire, or to 'add a dash' every now and then. Instead, I think it will involve simple pragmatic use of adapted hybrid bulls to transform entire cow bases to an appropriate balance of African, Bos Indicus and Bos Taurus genes that is self replacing, polled and highly marketable.

Hybrid bulls can facilitate rapid transformation of purebred herds to desired Composites in a very practical and efficient manner. The Vets that fertility test our hybrid Pathfinder® and Transition® line bulls are constantly commenting on the high quality of the bulls' semen, demonstrating hybrid vigour is great for bull fertility too. The adapted Taurus genetics in these two lines make them slick coated and resistant to tropical stresses, meaning they can be used to reduce Bos Indicus content in herds without having any Bos Indicus in the bulls themselves. We have sent bulls as far as Adelaide River in the Northern Territory, with tremendous feedback.

For more information on Popplewell Composite's bull products including our Pathfinder® and Transition® line hybrid bulls please click here