Nominations open for across-breed Beef Progeny Test

// Breeding and Genetics

Nominations are open for sires to be considered for use in the ground-breaking Informing New Zealand Beef Progeny Test.

Image of Kepler Farm cows and calves

For the first time, Simmental genetics will be included in this year’s mating, (which is the third mating in the Test) adding to the Hereford and Angus genetics which have been the focus of the evaluation so far.

The Beef Progeny Test, which builds on previous progeny tests, will use Angus, Hereford and Simmental genetics to identify the performance of agreed-on traits linking with international beef and dairy beef genetics.

Jason Archer, Informing New Zealand Beef’s Science Lead, says the expansion of the programme to include Simmental genetics has been made possible by the inclusion of Lochinver Station near Taupo as one of the Progeny Test’s host farms.

While traditionally used as a terminal breed in this country, Simmental are commonly used in maternal crossbred cows in other parts of the world.

Jason says there are maternal lines of Simmental available in NZ which will be suitable for use in a maternal crossbreeding programme.

To date, the Test has been run on Pāmu’s Kepler farm near Te Anau, where Hereford and Angus cows have been run side-by-side with crosses undertaken both ways.

Through the Test, the breeders of the selected bulls will be provided with a wealth of detailed information about the performance of the bull’s progeny including, in the case of steers, processing data.

While still very early days, across-breed progeny test data is being gathered on Kepler farm as part of the Informing New Zealand beef programme.  Initial analysis of data gathered through the previous Beef Progeny Test has already identified some interesting trends.

The first is the relatively low correlation between Body Condition Score (BCS) in cows and fat depth measurements in heifers and bulls.

Jason says they have found this correlation to be only 25 per cent, which makes a focus on EBVs for fat a blunt instrument for indicating a cow’s ability to hold her condition through winter.

Early results suggest that it could be better to measure BCS and create an Estimated Breeding Value (EBV) based on that as a more reliable indicator of a cow’s ability to maintain body condition during feed deficits.

The other finding was the link between sires and a heifer’s ability to get back in-calf at her second mating.

Jason says they found there was no variation between sires and a heifer’s ability to get in-calf for the first time as a yearling, but there was variation when it came to getting that heifer back in calf a second time.

“That’s the important mating because that inability to get back in calf makes for a very expensive animal.”

Early indications suggest that this variation disappears once the cow moves into the mixed-age herd.

Dairy Beef Progeny Test

Running in parallel to the across-breed Beef Progeny Test is the B+LNZ’s Genetics Dairy Beef Progeny Test which aims to improve the quality of the dairy beef produced in this country by identifying superior beef bulls and enabling their widespread across dairy herds.

Launched in 2015, the aim of the programme is to provide dairy farmers with short gestation, easy-calving genetics which will also offer finishers fast-growing animals that meet processors’ carcass specifications.

Every year, beef breeders can nominate their best bulls for consideration in the programme and successful bulls then become part of the Progeny Test.

This Progeny test is run at Pāmu’s Wairakei Estate and involves 1600 crossbred cows milked once-daily.

Calves are reared at Pāmu’s Renown farm and then transferred to Orakouni, within the Wairakei Pastoral Group for growing out.

Calving ease, gestation length, birthweight, 200,400,600-day weights are all recorded along with a carcase data. Reports are generated annually. 

INZB is a joint initiative between Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund.

The Informing New Zealand Beef programme incorporates five areas of work, including the Beef Progeny Test. The overall aim of the seven-year programme is to improve profitability and enhance sustainability across New Zealand’s beef industry through the development and adoption of improved genetics.

Find out more and access nomination forms

More information and bull nominations forms for the Progeny Tests can be found at: