Simmental have once again met farmer expectations in the Beef+Lamb NZ Genetics Beef Progeny Test
Nine Simmental bulls from six studs have been benchmarked against 44 other bulls and breeds. The testing is run on 5 commercial farms (not research stations or stud farms) and a variety bulls have been used over about 2,000 cows for the last 4 years.
Simmental are well known to be a great option for farmers wanting a terminal bull. Getting progeny up to weight and off the farm as quickly as possible remain fundamental targets for many beef operations around the New Zealand. Simmental again proved their ability in achieving this by taking seven of the top 10 slots for growth to 18 months. Not surprisingly, many of the same seven bulls also dominated weaning weight and yearling weight growth. A great outcome for the breed.
This progeny test is delivering vivid outcomes for commercial farmers. It is forming a strong and reliable data source, able to compliment bull buying decisions. Commercial farmers need not hesitate in debating whether terminal genetics will work. The progeny test has done that. Simmental offer farmers an excellent terminal option where growth is important.
In addition to proving the merits of using dedicated terminal genetics, the progeny test has also demonstrated the value of considering breeding values. Last year’s test results showed that 80% of the value of breeding values for growth traits were being passed on to commercial farmers. 80% of a sires potential to get calves to a weight within a period of time, was proven, on commercial farms! That in itself should have instilled confidence in commercial farmers to use breeding values more regularly.
This year the test showed that about 90% of the value of breeding values was being passed on to commercial farmers. Why the increase? Well, each new crop of calves provides more and more growth data and information to the test, providing more and more evidence about the performance capacity of bulls. The more years the test is run, the more calves on the ground and the more likely the test will be able to prove that 100% of breeding values are passed on to commercial farmers.
Simmental are also contributing to proving the merit of carcase traits such as eye muscle area, marbling and other fat traits. Carcase traits have been measured in two rounds. Once from ultrasound scanning live animals; a tried and tested method used for years by many farmers, and in-plant measurements having been through the Silver fern Farms Beef EQ grading system.
The Silver Fern Farms Beef EQ grading system is a welcome innovation in New Zealand beef industry, essentially providing crystal clear signals to farmers about how carcases grade and whether they attract a premium. For years farmers have been screaming out for systems like this. Australia and the USA have had them for years.
Similar to the growth traits, as more animals are killed and graded, the more likely breeding values for carcase traits will be proven to work for commercial farmers. There are already indications that Simmental are able to support farmers looking for carcase merit as well as growth. Simmental might tend to be more known for carcase weight and dressing %, but there are already individuals who are seeking top ranks for overall Beef EQ grades. Only time will tell as more animals contribute to the test and the rest of the story is told.