James Alexander of Jalex Livestock – a supplier of high-end suckler-bred heifers – favours “southern-bred cattle because they have more AI breeding in them”.
During Dovea Genetics’ recent suckler webinar, he revealed that he believes “AI breeding is really carrying the southern cattle forward”.
He told beef programme manager, John Lynch: “There are smaller farmers keeping a handful of cows, watching the bulls to see how they are doing and are asking their local technician about what bull is doing what the whole time.”
“I get the breeding of my cattle from ICBF. For example, you see a black heifer and you often see she is out of a Blue-cross-Hereford cow.”
“Some of the things people do that breed the cattle I get, I wonder what they are doing, but it works for them.”
“If I go to select heifers for the sale, and I put the best heifers in one pen and the second quality ones into another, whenever I get their breeding back and get the catalogue made up, the best pen of heifers every single time are all AI-bred.”
He said that as time progresses, more farmers are focusing on quality over quantity.
But, he does not have any preference when it comes to breed or colour as long as the animal “has the traits it needs”.
“Every person has a different farm, and some work away and cannot be calving them. Every single person has a different set-up and a different idea of what they call a good calver or a top calf.”
“But if it is square, soft, mobile, calveable and has bone, you are nearly getting there. I buy cattle everywhere but try to have them 500kgs+ preferably; weanlings do not suit my system.”
“The way that the job is going and the way that the job has been, the more colour, width and plates you get, the more valuable your calf is.”
“Colour and shape are so important moving forward. But it depends on what you are going for.”
Capitalising on Lynch’s earlier discussion on crossing Blue bulls on Limousin cows, he added: “Of all the cows I have ever calved, and I have calved thousands, never can I recall doing a C-section on a red cow to a Blue bull.”