Results are out for meat quality

Whangara Farms general manager Richard Scholefield points to the first meat quality results in the B+LNZ beef progeny programme as confirmation that using genetics can improve farming businesses and lift the performance of the national beef herd. File picture

The first meat quality results from the Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics (B+LNZ Genetics) beef progeny test confirm that using genetics could lift the performance of New Zealand’s beef herd, said Whangara Farms general manager Richard Scholefield.

One of the original idea brokers to get the progeny test underway, Mr Scholefield said all beef farmers can improve their business by looking at the use of genetics.

Last year the test showed superior growth rates for the Simmental breed in particular compared to Angus, Hereford and Charolais.

Recently the 52 bulls in Cohort 1 of the test were ultrasound scanned providing a snapshot of their meat quality.

The results show how the different sires from five breeds are performing with regard to intra-muscular fat (IMF), or marbling, a key indicator for meat quality.

National Beef Genetics manager for B+LNZ Max Tweedie said Angus cattle tended to have the highest IMF, but there were Simmental sires that performed above average and above some Angus sires. “They performed at or above expectation for a terminal breed. There are certainly bulls in the Simmental breed that have both traits (strong growth and marbling) and the results are hammering that home.”

One key finding from the research was that using Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) to select sires with desired traits to improve a herd works, he said.

Mr Scholefield said the results that are coming out of the progeny test “are pretty compelling when you look at the figures. You cannot refute them.”

Whangara Farms is one of five commercial farms involved in the project.

Half of its 2500-cow herd are mated to Simmental bulls as terminal sires and for the past four years it has had 800 cows involved in the test.

Mr Scholefield only began using EBVs to select his bulls after hearing about the benefits.

“For most of my farming career to date I thought using genetics was not cost effective, but it is.”

It would add huge value to the New Zealand beef industry if more farmers embraced the use of EBVs and genomics, he said.

“The question I would ask New Zealand farmers is where do you rank genetics within your business? What are your goals and objectives?”

The beef progeny test involves around 2200 cows and heifers.

It aims to determine how bulls of different breeds perform under comparable commercial conditions in different environments, and capture the worth of superior genetics from breeding cow performance, finishing ability and carcase attributes.

Simmental New Zealand Council member Daniel Absolom said that across- breed performance and variation within breed between sires is of most interest in the progeny test.

While Simmental were known for fast growth rates the test shows on meat quality “they are punching above their weight because the European breeds have not previously been recognised in New Zealand as having that sort of marbling,” he said.

Simmental New Zealand supports the test because it is gleaning information that’s not been captured before, he said.

“All commercial farmers can use that information to their own advantage,” said Daniel Absolom.

The test results come on the back of strong prices for Simmental cross calves at North Island weaner sales, with the breed often fetching the top steer prices in a buoyant market this year. B+LNZ said the ultrasound results give an indicative comparison of the sires’ performances and the carcase results, being released at a field day at Rangitaiki Station, Taupo, on May 8, will provide conclusive results.

The ultrasound results are available on the B+LNZ website.

The first meat quality results from the Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics (B+LNZ Genetics) beef progeny test confirm that using genetics could lift the performance of New Zealand’s beef herd, said Whangara Farms general manager Richard Scholefield.

One of the original idea brokers to get the progeny test underway, Mr Scholefield said all beef farmers can improve their business by looking at the use of genetics.

Last year the test showed superior growth rates for the Simmental breed in particular compared to Angus, Hereford and Charolais.

Recently the 52 bulls in Cohort 1 of the test were ultrasound scanned providing a snapshot of their meat quality.

The results show how the different sires from five breeds are performing with regard to intra-muscular fat (IMF), or marbling, a key indicator for meat quality.

National Beef Genetics manager for B+LNZ Max Tweedie said Angus cattle tended to have the highest IMF, but there were Simmental sires that performed above average and above some Angus sires. “They performed at or above expectation for a terminal breed. There are certainly bulls in the Simmental breed that have both traits (strong growth and marbling) and the results are hammering that home.”

One key finding from the research was that using Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) to select sires with desired traits to improve a herd works, he said.

Mr Scholefield said the results that are coming out of the progeny test “are pretty compelling when you look at the figures. You cannot refute them.”

Whangara Farms is one of five commercial farms involved in the project.

Half of its 2500-cow herd are mated to Simmental bulls as terminal sires and for the past four years it has had 800 cows involved in the test.

Mr Scholefield only began using EBVs to select his bulls after hearing about the benefits.

“For most of my farming career to date I thought using genetics was not cost effective, but it is.”

It would add huge value to the New Zealand beef industry if more farmers embraced the use of EBVs and genomics, he said.

“The question I would ask New Zealand farmers is where do you rank genetics within your business? What are your goals and objectives?”

The beef progeny test involves around 2200 cows and heifers.

It aims to determine how bulls of different breeds perform under comparable commercial conditions in different environments, and capture the worth of superior genetics from breeding cow performance, finishing ability and carcase attributes.

Simmental New Zealand Council member Daniel Absolom said that across- breed performance and variation within breed between sires is of most interest in the progeny test.

While Simmental were known for fast growth rates the test shows on meat quality “they are punching above their weight because the European breeds have not previously been recognised in New Zealand as having that sort of marbling,” he said.

Simmental New Zealand supports the test because it is gleaning information that’s not been captured before, he said.

“All commercial farmers can use that information to their own advantage,” said Daniel Absolom.

The test results come on the back of strong prices for Simmental cross calves at North Island weaner sales, with the breed often fetching the top steer prices in a buoyant market this year. B+LNZ said the ultrasound results give an indicative comparison of the sires’ performances and the carcase results, being released at a field day at Rangitaiki Station, Taupo, on May 8, will provide conclusive results.

The ultrasound results are available on the B+LNZ website.

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