The hunt for ‘True Adaptation’ is unfolding

Three EBV’s have evolved with a close relationship to profit in northern Australia. Days to Calving (DTC EBV) reports on all known relatives for reproduction speed.

The hunt for ‘True Adaptation’ is unfolding

Three EBV’s have evolved with a close relationship to profit in northern Australia. Days to Calving (DTC EBV) reports on all known relatives for reproduction speed.

Reproduction speed influences profit more than all other traits combined.

Jap Ox $ EBV (JapOx$) incorporates growth and reproduction speed and later maturity patterns.

Live Export $ EBV (LivEx$) incorporates reproduction speed, rapid growth, and earlier turnoff patterns.

The results have been amazing in the CBV herd as demonstrated in the charts above.

In a recent search of the top 100 sires for DTC, 86 were CBV born plus 3 sired by CBV sires; how fortunate indeed, 89% (source – ABBA Group Breedplan – sires with progeny).

This is no ‘Flash-in-the-Pan’ result

We are in our 35th season of matings and analysis for genetic traits that truly make a difference to commercial returns. We have not always chosen the correct path, having an eternally curious mind. We do have the desire to interrogate our results and make rapid and sometimes severe corrections.

With Breedplan our data has always been open to scrutiny. Our genetics have been freely available to co-operator breeders.

We do not get involved in breed and pedigree fashions.

‘Remember, to manage we need to measure’ (Prof. Jan Bonsma)

To determine the truly effective genetics is not easy; it is expensive, time consuming and not always successful.

CBV cows are drafted into five ‘Speed-bands”, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, and Echo; based on the time of calving each year, and they become the mating groups for that summer.

We rotate a series of sires through the five “Speed-band” groups for three weeks in each mating, and last year utilized 57 sires. About half of these were multiple matings, with the ensuing cost of collecting tail-hair samples for DNA sire verification, and the cost of testing. By taking this approach we are trying to find the females most willing, and the bulls most able... a simple task indeed.

All cows must be pregnant in our window of operation, bring a weaner to the yards, and be rebred on time. To find the truly adapted “marathon class” genetics, we choose to start mating on October 1, regardless of the nutrition. Some cows always make it. Naturally some fail to breed, some have calf mortality, and some lose their pregnancy. Each and all of these failures results in selling the non-weaning cow. A carcass is fair settlement. Each weaning calf and cow is weighed and data entered in Breedplan.

Yearling bulls are measured monthly for testicle diameters, and weight in our search for puberty threshold. Ideally we want puberty expressed at low weight and young age. Again, a significant cost but we think illustrates extremely well their “Fitness for Function”. We would take around 10,000 individual measures each season. Yes, we are dedicated in our pursuit of excellence.

Our young cattle are never afforded easy living. In fact they exist on basic grazing, either at CBV or on agistment. The logistics are never simple, but necessary if we are to keep true to our goals:

  1. Meaningful information
  2. Accurate data
  3. Commercially effective results
  4. Genetic competence

We have submitted 35 years of data to Breedplan, starting before Brahman Breedplan existed per favor Peter Speer and Dr Hans Graser’s Fleckvied database. We had super assistance, guidance, and cooperation from a giant in the analysis game named Jack Allen at ABRI. We could never have achieved our gains without Jack Allen, with his technical ability, his patience, his vision, tenacity, extreme hard work and courage. He is worthy of an article of his own.

Dr Graser at AGBU continued to encourage us. Between us we have seen the growth and integrity of Breedplan forge ahead, regardless of impediments.

Still more to come with Dr Gaser’s DGV’s (Direct Genomic Values) under development. And surely we will see the proving up of even more methods of analysis in the future.

The Major Leap Forward - DTC EBV

Development of ‘Days to Calving’ (DTC) EBV’s has been a major leap forward in addressing the core issue in northern Australia of reproduction efficiency.

Coupled with that, the Dollar EBV’s developed by Steve Barwick for Jap Ox and also Live Export are really useful for ‘Quick-Sort’ of data. These two $ EBV’s are a combination of factors that control profitability. Reproduction has a major role in these EBV’s, as it has in the ‘real life’ cattle business.

For those who use financial spreadsheets, just tap in a few percent increase in the reproduction rates and watch the nett result soar in the bottom line.

Only one thing left to do then - apply some of the above experience, genetics and technology and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

This process is not new, even though it is not widely adopted or understood. Yet at CBV we believe this is very necessary and achievable. CBV has seen some remarkable results in practical application, with care and determination, growing and consolidating commercial cattle businesses.

These gains are available to all herds of cattle, simply with determination, analysis, management and time. There are no silver bullets.

In Brahmans, as in architecture, quality equals fitness for function.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has”.... Margaret Mead.

Philosophy that underpins CBV


Aimed at superior analysis/management rigor.

Northern Australia’s beef industry needs this approach. Beef businesses, yes?

Just simply ask the questions..... of your herd and your genetics supplier

  • How fast for reproduction?
  • How fast for growth?
  • How many generations of solid data?
  • How diligent is the interrogation?

What are the tools?

  • DTC Days to Calving EBV
  • JapOx $ EBV
  • LivEx $ EBV
  • Rigorous management

The Future

  • Truly adapted cattle
  • Low operational cost
  • Profitable in all years

Catalyst for change

During the late 50’s, and early 60’s, such was the impact of crossbreeding and upgrading of conventional Bos taurus herds with Brahman blood that it was a real revolution, along with highly emotive reactions from cattlemen who resisted change.

Realistically, the margins in beef cattle in northern Australia have rarely been significant. Yet with attention to detail, cost management, and awareness of yield, the northern beef industry has developed steadily; expansive country that was most suited to grazing has supported over half of the nations herd.

The role of adaptation, resistance to parasites, and superior feed utilization as well as hybrid vigour was researched by CSIRO and Departments of Primary Industry, and adopted by curious and progressive cattlemen.

It is hard to imagine now that some influential cattlemen and stud breeders fought hard to suppress these findings, and prevent distribution of the “new” genetics to the industry.

Albert Einstein ...‘We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them’.

It seems that uptake of confronting information has to navigate the maze of the human mind; there in itself perhaps, is the biggest challenge.

“Never underestimate the role of truly adapted cattle to make a profit”

Then find out what is truly adapted

At CBV the hunt for facts, and practical application to a working beef herd, has been a lifelong pursuit. Being practical is sometimes very different to just reading the research outcomes.

The difference is the cost of production

Research farms and stud operations often have input levels that an average beef operation would choke on. When you interrogate why and how, the obvious weight gains or reproduction rates are only possible with a high cost per kilogram, or low stocking rates combined with excellent country.

This is where practice needs to ascend theory, and, just like panning for gold, if you dig enough, and pan hard, you find the gold. Hard work and thrift are hard to beat, applied to man and beast.

Quality equals ‘fitness for function’

Mr Tom Lassiter of Beefmaster fame impressed me as a child with his “no nonsense” approach that demanded a pregnancy and a good weaner for every cow retained. Lassiter made no excuses. I read every line of his ads and articles.

Mr Lionel DeLandelles of Cherokee Brahmans fame raised cattle on some of the poorest country around, and succeeded in developing very thrifty cattle. Almost every Brahman herd in Australia used some Cherokee bloodlines. He was measuring net feed efficiency more than fifty years ago. The best of his cattle on good country had few equals in function and profit per hectare.

Other Australian seminal herds, Wetherby, Waverley, Wairuna and Walla; all had tough country.

Dr Max Hammond did similar on poor country, and emphasized reproduction rates in a time when few people even discussed the subject. He succeeded too!

Dr Vercoe, Dr Frisch, Prof D’Occhio, Prof Kinder, Jack Allen at ABRI, Dr Graser, Ken Coombe, Dr Warnick, Ken Rowan and Prof Baruselli all have been inspiring to me, in that they mentored and encouraged us to keep searching, measure always, and interrogate the data.

Albert Einstein stated...’Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better’.

What an inspiring world God gave us.

Alf Collins - CBV...20150325.

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