Informing New Zealand Beef’s Progeny Test enters its third year

// Breeding and Genetics

The third crop of calves born into Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Informing New Zealand Beef Progeny Test will hit the ground on Manapouri’s Kepler Station this spring.

image of cow herd

Anna Boyd, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetic Operations Specialist - Beef, says a total of 405 Hereford and Angus cows were Artificially Inseminated (AI) last December using genetics from six Angus, six Hereford bulls and one internationally-sourced Angus bull. The AI programme was followed up by farm-selected bulls.

She says despite the dry spring, the cows were in very good condition going into mating and this was reflected in the pregnancy test results in March. The re-bred 2020-born heifers went to the bull at a Body Condition Score (BCS) of 7.6 and had a 69 percent success rate to AI. The 2019-born females went to the bull at an average BCS of 7.5 and had a 63 percent success rate to AI.

Last spring, the first heifers sired by progeny test sires (born in 2021) went to the bull for a natural mating. Weighing an average 421kg going into mating, they had a very pleasing 96 per cent pregnancy rate.

This will be amongst the data gathered on their fertility traits which will include Days to Conception. This is based on scanning to estimate foetal age within five-day windows.

Along with steers born the same year, the heifers were structurally assessed and had their eye muscle area, rib fat, rump fat and intra-muscular fat ultrasound scanned and measured.

The 2021-born steers were processed at the Silver Fern Farms plant Finegand, before their second winter, and carcase data collected, including Beef EQ data.

Anna says in April, the second cohort of progeny test calves born on Kepler were weaned and docility scored.

Taupo’s Lochinver Station came into the progeny test last year and had their first mating in January.

Anna says 586 Angus cows went through an AI programme using the same Hereford and Angus genetics used at Kepler with the addition of four Simmental bulls.

Pregnancy scanning showed a 58 percent rate.

The seven-year Informing New Zealand Beef (INZB) programme is a partnership between Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Ministry for Primary Industries and the New Zealand Meat Board. It aims to boost the sector’s profits by $460m over the next 25 years.

Focused on increasing uptake of the use of high-quality genetics in the beef industry, the four main components of the programme are developing New Zealand-specific breeding indexes, building a genetic evaluation and data infrastructure, running progeny test herds and developing new data sources.