Wintery weather failed to dampen the spirits of the 90 people who attended Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics’ recent Beef Progeny Test field day at Pāmu’s Kepler Farm.
Kepler Farm, near Manapouri, is one of two farm’s hosting the across-breed Beef Progeny Test which is part of B+LNZ’s seven-year Informing New Zealand Beef programme. The other host farm is Lochinver Station near Taupo in the central North Island.
This will be the third year that Kepler Farm has been involved with the Beef Progeny Test and last December, 405 Hereford and Angus cows were Artificially Inseminated (AI) using genetics from six Angus, six Hereford bulls and one internationally-sourced Angus bull. The AI programme was followed up by farm-selected bulls.
Speaking at the field day, Kepler Farm’s farm manager Travis Leslie gave an overview of the operation before Jason Archer, Anna Boyd and Franzi Weik from B+LNZ Genetics talked about the across-breed Beef Progeny Test, the Informing New Zealand Beef Programme and findings from the original B+LNZ Genetics Beef Progeny Test.
Jason Archer, Informing New Zealand Beef’s (INZB) Science Lead, says the goals of Progeny Test were to provide the data required to compare genetics across breeds, to assess industry-leading bulls ( including the collection of carcass and maternal performance data), to demonstrate the power of cross-breeding and develop a resource for the investigation of potential new traits.
Anna Boyd, Genetic Operations Specialist-Beef outlined the nuts and bolts of the Progeny Test programme on Kepler Farm including bull selection, mating and pregnancy test data as well as the raft of measurements taken and information recorded at pre-calving, calving, calf-marking and weaning.
B+LNZ Geneticist, Franzi Weik, drew on her analysis of the original B+LNZ Genetics Beef Progeny Test, which was run on five large-scale beef operations throughout the country, to talk about the maternal performance of beef cows in New Zealand. She spoke about the heritability of cow Body Condition Score and the relationship between Body Condition Score and reproductive performance.
Well-known Accredited Structural Assessor Bill Austin then demonstrated how to carry out a structural assessment on cattle using a small group of the 2021-born Progeny Test heifers.
The field day also included a presentation from Rebecca Hickson from Focus Genetics who talked about the future direction of Pāmu’s cattle breeding programme and a discussion on finishing and carcass quality from Jason Archer and Travis Leslie.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics, with the support of the Ministry for Primary Industries and the New Zealand Meat Board, is leading the Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures partnership INZB programme.
The overall aim of the programme is to improve profitability and enhance sustainability across the beef industry through the development and adoption of improved genetics.
In addition to developing a beef genetic evaluation system, the programme will also create easy-to-use tools to enable data to be efficiently collected, managed, analysed and used by farmers to make profitable decisions for their operation.