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Stackyard News May 2011

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Beef Shorthorn Breed Makes Genetic Progress

Beef Shorthorn breeders have made strides forward in improving a number of performance traits according to the society’s latest results from Breedplan, the breed society’s genetic evaluation system.

Meonhill Highland Centurion sold for 12,000gns at the breed’s official Stirling sale in February 2011.

Meonhill Highland Centurion

While mature cow size has maintained the status quo, recorded progeny cattle have cumulatively improved their 200 day weight by 40kgs during the last 10 years, and eye muscle area has improved by 21%, yet at the same time calf birth weights have only increased marginally by an average 1.2kg.

“Beef Shorthorn’s focus is on its ability as a functional suckler cow to produce calves for today’s market,” says the society’s Frank Milnes. “Consequently, our modern Shorthorn cows are still moderate sized and have the ability to calve easily, yet they are now delivering calves with better growth rates and carcase conformation and subsequently a higher value calf whether for replacement purposes, or to sell store or to finish.

“Those improvements are firmly reflected in the marketplace. At the breed’s official Stirling sale in February, bulls within the breed’s top 10% for SRI sold to average £5,145 compared with non-recorded bulls averaging £2,152.”

He adds: “Joining Breedplan and recording cattle for specific traits has certainly helped to speed up genetic progress by enabling us to select more carefully and subsequently produce a more efficient animal. Genetic progress is both cumulative and market driven.”

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