More Farmers Mate Heifers to Replenish Cow Numbers
11 September 2013
More Farmers Mate Heifers to Replenish Cow Numbers After Drought
More farmers are mating heifers this season as they try to replace cows that were culled in the drought.
New Zealand’s largest red meat genetics company, Focus Genetics is seeing strong demand from farmers for calving ease yearling bulls, which can effectively mate yearling heifers.
Focus Genetics animal breeding specialist, Daniel Absolom says the most cost effective way to rebuild is from within the herd, so many farmers look at mating yearling heifers or mating more heifers than they would normally.
“On the back of drought there is limited supply of cows and the quality can be variable. So the best way for farmers to replace capital stock is for them to breed. By exposing more cows to the bull, farmers can achieve this.”
“This season we are seeing strong demand for calving ease yearling bulls which can go over yearling heifers. Farmers are keen to mate more of their heifers because they see it as the best option to rebuild their numbers,” said Mr Absolom.
The Beef and Lamb New Zealand Economic Service's annual stock survey found there are now 20,000 less breeding cows in the Lower North Island with Taranaki- Manawatu and the East Coast regions seeing the biggest drop.
King Country farmer John Petersen says he was forced to cull over 25 cows during the peak of the drought.
“Feed got very tight during the drought so we decided to drop our older cows and off loaded our 12 year olds earlier than we usually would have. We now have more heifers in calf so we hope to replenish these cow numbers.”
Mr Petersen has been farming Focus Genetics Stabilizer cattle for over 10 years. He usually calves 90 heifers but this season he has over 100 in calf.
“The biggest challenge is getting two year old heifers back in calf. The Stabilizer works really well. They get in calf easily, they’re good yielding and they have good growth weights. We generally calve about 90 percent vetted in calf, which is good on our steeper country,” said Mr Petersen.
“We have always bought the low birth weight yearling bulls with superior growth weight for our heifers and cows. These bulls will go over our heifers, but they also have good grunt to move into the older cows, so we can get the best of both worlds out of one bull.”
Mr Petersen says by buying younger bulls he gets earlier genetic gain which is an attractive option, and they settle into the sire herd well without fighting.
Last year Focus Genetics auctioned its bulls online for the first time and ran New Zealand’s largest online bull sale.
Focus Genetics chief executive, Gavin Foulsham says selling bulls online allows farmers the opportunity to see a broad range of bulls from across the country in one place.
“Using this technology gives farmers more choice from a larger range of bulls. They can see bulls from a variety of properties all around the country. For example farmers from Wanganui can now buy bulls in Te Anau without physically being there, so there are no geographical challenges.
“Often farmers want the same bull, and online not only gives them a greater choice, but also allows them to compete for the bull that best meets their needs. They can set their price and are in control of their auction.”
Focus Genetics will run one of New Zealand’s largest online bull sales on October 9th and 10th where it will auction all its breeds which include Angus, Red Angus, Stabilizer and Simmental.