In 2009, we purchased 19 cows and heifers from The Grange dispersal in Albury. Other females have been acquired over the years from Aberdeen, Coolana, Kansas, Kenny’s Creek, Ireland’s, Millah Murrah, Old Kentucky, St. Paul’s and Wattletop to establish a herd of structurally sound, fertile females.
We artificially inseminate all of our females and introduce cover bulls the day after AI. The bulls remain with the breeding group for 6 weeks. Given that the genomics we perform on all calves includes parental verification, there is no need for a significant time separation between AI and natural joining to determine the sire of the calf. The females have only 2 cycles with the cover bull in which to get in calf. This has the advantages of a very tight calving window of 6 weeks and also ensures that only the most fertile of our females remain in the program.
We endeavour to set up our heifers as early calvers and if looked after properly, they tend to remain early calvers for life.
We have a low threshold for culling females from the breeding group if they fail to fulfil any of our criteria on fertility and feet, temperament and teats. They must produce a live calf every year, without assistance, from this 6 week joining window. If they fail, they are culled or become recipients in our ET program.
The soft, alluvial soils of Burke’s Creek are tough on feet. If feet hold up well in our conditions, they should hold up well anywhere so poor feet are not tolerated. Our heifers undergo an independent structural assessment as yearlings which allows us to cull any potential problems before they are joined for the first time at 14 months.
If a dam allows its newborn calf to be taken away briefly for weighing and tagging and shows no signs of aggression, she passes our temperament test.
The Rock Angus runs 100 breeders and 50 ET recipients at present. With the purchase of an adjacent property 2 years ago, we are looking to increase this to 150 breeders over the next 2 to 3 years. While we are only a small operator in the stud world, this has given us scope to be tough on our females for certain attributes. We made the decision to remove all DD carriers and affected females from our herd 3 years ago so we now have no carriers of any of the 4 common genetic conditions that affect Angus cattle.