1. What does the market want?

The Commercial Breeder wants a cow that calves easily, every year and weans a high meat yielding, growthy calf.

The bull must be well adapted to the veld with good walking ability. He must be able to get the cows pregnant with a calf that weans well at a high weight.

Feedlots require 200-220kg calves, that have good feed conversion and average daily gains are early maturing and put on fat. Should finish at a live weight of 430kgs to slaughter out at a max of 280kgs (65%).

Abattoirs and retailers require slaughter out percentages of 60% plus.

Retailers want to sell meat – not bone and fat. They cut the meat off the bone, they require an efficient carcase that has less fat to trim off as wastage.

The consumer’s # one priority is health, no disease and low cholesterol less fat with vitamins and protein. #2 is eating experience, ie tender and tasty. #3 is price.

THE LIMOUSIN CAN SATISFY ALL THE ABOVE ROLE PLAYERS IN THE INDUSTRY.

2. Objectives

Who is our customer?
We endeavor to breed with ‘passion’ the perfect Carcase breed animal with the best meat yield (slaughter percentage and meat bone ratio) and tender beef, in terms of the breeding policy for the following customers:

●  The ‘ Commercial’ farmer
●  The ‘Stud’ breeder
●  The International ‘Stud’ Breeder
●  The Abattoir and Feedlot
●  The Retailers
●  The Consumer
●  SAMIC and other role players in the beef industry.

Using the highest standards of quality control with the best management techniques:

●  Performance testing
●  Estimated breeding valves
●  Genetic and DNA testing
●  Meat quality and carcase traits
●  On a profitable basis which will add value to our customers, employees and owners.

Breeding Policy
We strive to breed well-adapted, medium framed, functionally efficient Limousins, right type with good conformation, muscling and hair coat.

Cows must be feminine and fertile with excellent milk and udder, which calve easily.

Bulls must be masculine, with broad muscling over the withers and length of back. Hindquarters should be wide, long, full and fleshy. A large uniform pair of testes and fine sheath should be visible.

We match each animal’s genetic traits to achieve well-balanced breeding with no extremes.

In addition, we must know our market and get close to the commercial breeder, educate him and provide a good after sales service.

Fertility Is # 1
It accounts for 60% of your herds performance. It is measured by; age first calf; inter-calving period; scrotum size and days to calving. What is fertility?

Per 100 cows exposed to a bull how many conceived? (>95%) How many calved and produced a live calf? (90%). How many did you wean? (85%). Any herd producing 80% plus is doing well. So, the important question is, how many cows exposed to a bull actually weaned a live calf? That is fertility. Your recording system must give you this information.

3. Minimum standards

Age First Calf < 39 Months

Inter-calving Period < 640 Days

Days Last Calf < 640 Days

Scrotum Size < 34cm @ 24 months or 600kg

(Jan 2008)

●  Birth weights are important to manage calving problems especially with heifers, 10% of your herds performance.

●  Growth traits account for 25% of your herds performance and comprise milk of heifers, 200 day direct wean weight of the calf itself, 400 day growth rate 600 day growth rate which should taper off and mature cow weight which should be close to the average of the breed i.e a ‘curve bender’ = a small calf at birth, which weans heavy and grows out well to 400 days but begins to curve back and taper off at 600 days and have an average mature cow weight. (cow efficiency)

●  Carcase traits are not so important today but will become important in the future as the consumer becomes more demanding about meat quality. ( only 5% of herds performance).

●  Determine B.L.U.P breeding goals for your herd, looking at the average of the breed and where your herd averages are reflecting. You will notice your strengths and weaknesses very quickly and then mix and match each cow to each bull. Your genetic trends will automatically come right and your herd will improve quickly.

Weight Goals (Average) Heifers kg Bulls kg
Birth 36 37
Wean 200 days 222 238
400 days 328 382
600 days 415 483
Mature cow weight 573 -
Scrotum - 312

●  In a “nutshell” your most important objective is – how many cows that were exposed to bull (or AI) weaned a live calf?

4. Record keeping

●  This is extremely important to determine your fertility objective, genetic trends and how each bull and cow is breeding. There is no doubt that the eye tells you one story and the truth comes out in the figures.

●  A Breeding Book should be kept showing each cow (and calf) being exposed to a bull, one page per bull. When pregnancies are done, transfer this information to your card system. This will record the first fertility trait, how many cows conceived?

●  If you do artificial insemination, keep an AI book showing date of AI and which bull was used. Transfer this information to the card. AI can improve the genetic variation.

●  The most important book to keep is a Calf Book. It records the calf #, year and sequence i.e 071; Date of Birth ; Dam ID, Sire ID, Birth Weight; Dam Weight (optional) and comments (ease of calving; udder problems; abortions etc). This information can be transferred onto a manual card system or computer program-Herdmaster. This records all live calves; birth traits; difficult calvings; how quickly your cows and heifers conceived and your weaning percentage.

●  The manual progeny card system will show you at a glance how many calves you have had, their dates of birth, birth weights and to which bull they are pregnant to. You could consider putting weaning weights onto the card. When the calf arrives, it is easy to determine their sire. If there is some doubt, use a DNA test.

●  Another useful trick is to use a Cow Calendar with a pin for each cow. At a glance you can see where each cow is in the mating cycle and who has to be brought into the calving camp. Also which cows to AI + which must go directly to the bull.

●  Two weight books for bulls and heifers is a must. Try and weigh every two weeks but once a month will also help. Weigh your Show animals and National bulls as well. You can immediately pick up problems, without seeing the animals and adjust your feeding practices accordingly. Compare the previous weight and note any losses. Communicate to everyone.

5. Breeding seasons

●  Work with the environment.

●  You can have one Breeding Season but need to bull heifers at 12 to 15 months with a bull that has good birth BLUP figures. Also have to feed heifers before and after being exposed to the bull and after they calve. This is very expensive.

●  Therefore have two breeding seasons. i.e 1 December to 28 February (4 chances to conceive). You breed your heifers at 18 – 21 months of age. They can skip once over to the second breeding season i.e 1 June to 3 August (3chances). However your summer heifer calves will now calve in winter and vice versa. The trick with winter calves is to give them a creep feed (which is not expensive) and watch your calves wean better than the summer calves. The mothers get a good production lick and bales (In the highveld).

●  Use Vit A and Multimin before they calve, after they calve and before they go to the bull.

●  In summer, feed a good production lick. In winter use bales and creep feed. You will get >95% conception rates.

●  Sheath wash and fertility test your breeding bulls every 6 months (between breeding seasons).

●  Keep your breeding seasons tight so you can compare your animals in one homogenous group. Avoid long breeding seasons.

6. Herd health

●  Use clean sterilized needles only, and replace on every 5th animal to prevent lumps on the neck and abseses forming.

●  Depending on the number of cattle, a spray race is cost effective versus a back dip (1/2 price.)

●  The equivalent of Ivomac Super, is Pro Inject Yellow and a dip (1/2 price).

●  Use “ Pilliguard” on all cattle to prevent eye problems and select animals with long tails (they can swot flies).

●  We inoculate as follow:

            - Supavax April
            - Pro inject yellow + Dip May
            - Vit A and Multimin breeding cows + bulls May & November
            - Lumpy Skin August
            - CA Bleed (Annually) TB Test (every 2nd year) August
            - Scourguard cows & heifers 4 weeks before calve August & Feb
            - Three day stiff sickness and pilliguard (eye) November
            - RB51 Do all heifers at weaning ±7 months and again at 12 months.
            - Do all cows once they have calved.
            - Bovishield 4 Do all weaners at weaning and all cows once they have calved or
            - Bovishield Preg Can do cows when pregnant.

7. Management of staff

●  Accept personal responsibility. “The buck stops here”.

●  Communication can be achieved by having a meeting everyday with all employees who are affected by the cattle.

●  All employees should know the goals to be achieved for the next twelve months next three months, next month, next week and today’s goals.

●  Emphasize the “ Team Spirit”. They are not individuals but a part of the “ A” team helping each other achieve a common goal.

●  Plan the days work well in advance taking note of the weather. Communicate the plan clearly so every one understands.

●  Motivate your employees with small bonuses for a job well done and praise them, do this individually. Rather motivate 1 guy than demotivate twelve others.

●  Discipline individually with letters of warning. Try and mentor the delinquent behaviour.

●  Get your hands dirty and lead by example. You must be able to do the lowest paid workers job and menial tasks.

●  Delegate and work through your managers – you can’t do everything.

●  Check the work and recheck the work until you know it is being done competently.

●  Have a post mortem of where things went wrong and how you can improve next time. Learn from your mistakes and don’t make them again.

●  When a plan comes together and you are successful motivate by telling everyone how good they are.

●  Just do it’– if it has to be fixed, fix it immediately and keep everything under control. What can’t be controlled i.e the weather – don’t worry about it.

8. Production costs

●  Keep costs down. Feed is particularly expensive and a large percentage of your costs. Try and source the best prices for your inputs. Or use similar less expensive inputs.

●  If your herd is big enough, get a mixer and mix your own feeds and licks. You can also mix by hand. This saves money.

●  Bakkies are expensive and so are tractors. Use the latest technology “eight by fours” (2 mules and a mule car) and deliver your licks and feed out to the cattle. They can also move feeding troughs, check the animals, fix fences, bring cattle to the crush pen and deliver them back again. This is a huge cost saving.

●  Use a horse to collect the cattle and deliver them back again.

Bring your stud cattle to the crush pen at least once per week. You can then do the following:

●  Fix tickets so they can be read.

●  Fix eye problems.

●  Inject sick animals and put into a hospital camp nearby.

●  Weigh; Dip; dose calves, etc.

●  You can’t do this driving out to the lands with a bakkie and say you have checked the cattle. If you pick up a problem it is too time consuming to bring the animal to the crush and treat. It costs money driving that bakkie.

●  Prevention is better than cure and more cost effective – see herd health and you will sleep better at night.

9. Selections

●  Use your “BLUP Figures” and “Visual Appraisal” to help with your selections.

●  Try and avoid extremes, go for the middle of the road.

●  Use as much “Genetic Variation” as possible and try not to inbreed. ie AI.

●  Contact a well respected independent advisor who can help your visual appraisal.

●  Select for functional efficiency – the muzzle + a skew jaw, legs + walking ability, testes + udders.

●  Your herd profile should look like this for every “trait”



●  The bull you use is half your herd. Use a good bull with good BLUP figures + visual appraisal. A bull can be used from eighteen months, with good feed and care, to introduce new genetics. Make use of an independent advisor if you do not feel confident enough.

10. Marketing and after sales service

●  Suggest keep a data base of all your commercial bull buyers and stud clients. Stay in contact with a telephone call and enquire as to how the animals are performing.

●  If you can make the time, try and visit one or two buyers to see for yourself how your animals are doing and what your buyer’s concerns are.

●  Guarantee your product. If you pick up a problem – replace the animals or offer to get them better.

●  Spread the “Limousin Marketing Message” to all role players + farmers in the industry.

11. Feeding is breeding

●  To get the most out of your cattle, feed correctly.

●  Fertility is # 1, therefore production licks are required to get your cattle in calf. Try and keep your cows in condition at the end of a harsh winter and especially once they have calved, so they can conceive easily.

●  Ensure all growing animals are weighed every two weeks to manage their feed requirements, to reach their weight goals.

●  The most “cost effective” time to feed is on green grass. Use “Supermol” or feed equivalent. At the end of January when the grass goes off, change to a production lick and a few kilograms of SB 100. mix. Let the growing animals reach their potential

●  In winter, just maintain their weights. (cost effective)

●  Use a creep feed with your winter calves. They will wean better than your summer calves and you will have excellent conception rates.

●  We normally wean April/ May and do an on farm Phase “D” test with the bulls. They are fed for ±120 days and must put on a minimum of 120kgs over that period. Only at the end of the test, once we have scanned the animals (heifers and bulls) do we do our first selection and cull. This is important to get all the results of good and bad animals to Breedplan to avoid anti-selection.

●  Show animals and National bulls are fed a SB 100 ration on the veld slowly, over a period of time.

●  It is important to add fibre into the SB 100 ration to avoid acidosis and hoof problems. Use a respected hoof trimmer on your show cattle, and breeding bulls. Avoid overfeeding your show animals and manage using the weight books.

12. Record keeping (see Objectives)

●  This is extremely important to determine your genetic trends and how each bull and cow is breeding. There is no doubt that the eye tells you one story and the truth comes out in the figures.

●  The most important book to keep is a Calf book. It records the calf #, year and sequence i.e 071; Date of Birth; Dam ID; Sire ID; Birth Weight; Dam Weight (optional) and comments (ease of calving udder problem; abortion etc). This information can be transferred into a manual card system or computer program herdmaster.

●  A Breeding book should be kept showing each cow and calf being exposed to a bull, one page per bull. Again when pregnancies are done, transfer this information to your card system.

●  If you do artificial insemination, keep an AI book showing date of AI and which bull was used. Transfer this information to the card.

●  The manual progeny card system will show you at a glance how many calves you have had, their dates of birth, birth weights and to which bull they are pregnant to. You could consider putting weaning weights onto the card. When the calf arrives, it is easy to determine their sire. If there is some doubt, use a DNA test.

●  Another useful trick is to use a cow calendar with a pin for each cow. At a glance you can see where each cow is in the mating cycle and who has to be brought into the calving camp. Also which cows to AI + which must go directly to the bull.

●  Two weight books for bulls and heifers is a must. Try and weigh every two weeks but once a month will also help. Weigh your Show animals and National bulls as well. You can immediately pick up problems, without seeing the animals and adjust your feeding practices accordingly. Compare the previous weight and note any losses. Communicate to everyone.

Breedplan

●  The Society or Herd master will give you weighing lists. It is important to keep your breeding seasons tight so you can compare your animals in a homogenous group.

●  The most important weight to take is a weaning weight of the calf and the mother -Breedplan will do the rest. You do not have to take any other weights. This is the starting point of performance testing.

●  Accuracy – Animals should be compared on EBV’s ( estimated breeding values) regardless of accuracy. Accuracy of less than 75% should be considered low.

●  Scanning determines carcase traits – call Louwe Snyman 082 808 5343 and he will do the rest and send the information to Ciska and Breedplan.

●  DNA testing of your bulls for meat quality is done by Munroe Marks 083 450 2609. All you need to do is send a hair sample via post and Munroe does the rest. DNA is 40% accurate at the moment. Millions of A$ are being spent and in five years time, DNA will be ± 70% accurate. It is a test for the future so it is a good thing to test your breeding bulls. Munroe will also confirm parentages.

13. Basic everyday advice

●  Weighing

●  Make sure your scale weighs accurately – do test weighs with bags of feed + keep your scale clean.

●  Compare previous weight, + if you experience weight loses, see if the animal is sick or needs a shot of “Pro Inject Yellow” to get rid of parasites.

●  Calving

●  Bring pregnant mothers to calving camp.

●  Observe cows and heifers for difficult calvings.

●  Look at udders and milk out good milk producers to prevent mastitis.

●  Make sure the calf stands up and drinks the colostrum within the first six hours. If it does not drink – milk the cow out and give to calf. Use Calf Rescue Paste at birth.

●  After a difficult birth make sure you use a pessarie and inject Terramycin LA.

●  Do not pull “after birth”. It tears and causes infection.

●  Umbilical cord – spray with Betadine and cut off at 10 cm’s.

●  Put a Kenmerk metal tag in the ear.

●  Tattoo a month after birth to avoid the ear cartilage.

●  Fit a ticket with year, sequence and sire details.

●  Keep an eye out for calf diarrhea and inject a sulpher product.

●  Get the new born calves and mothers out into the lands as soon as possible , to avoid scours – don’t make the group too big ( ± 10 – 14 days after birth).

●  Tattooing

●  Is compulsory as per the Act.

●  The calf must stand still in a head clamp / crush.

●  Clean ear well with water and a cloth.

●  Check the number on metal Kenmerk and the stencils herd prefix, year and sequence #.ie DK 07123.



●  Before you tattoo, check details on piece of paper and the Calving Book, so no mistakes are made. If you do make a mistake, you can correct with written permission from the Society.

●  Cover the stencil with zebu polish and press the tattoo gun for 2 seconds in the ear. Remove the gun and rub the zebu polish into the holes 10 times.

14. Carcase competitions

●  A pure limousin will not put on enough fat and is not early maturing enough for the South African grading system.

●  Because of the above, the ideal cross should be with an Angus. It is early maturing and has the most fat. i.e. A Limflex. Any cross will do, except the breeds that have little fat.

●  The ideal calf should weigh ±220 kgs at the beginning of feeding. It should be well muscled with good eye muscle and temperament.

            - Judging of slaughter animal.
            - Slaughter % should be about 60 to 65%. Live weight ±440 kgs.
            - Size of carcase (5%) 190 to 280 kgs warm weight.
            - Fat coverage (75%) A2, A2 +
            - Conformation (20%) subjective.

●  An over conditioned heavy chest indicates over feeding. A prominent forearm indicates muscling.

 

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