Stock Journal

Everything in one breed

GOT IT COVERED: Hereford cattle bring docility, excellent growth, longevity, eating quality and the ability to excel both on grass and in the feedlot.

This article is branded content for Herefords Australia.

Every cattle breeder knows what their herd needs for success.

Good fertility, low cost of production, yield, livestock longevity and market options are the words on everyone's lips.

And every one of these attributes can be reached with Herefords.

But it doesn't stop there. Hereford cattle are renowned for their amazing docility, as well as their ability to finish on grass and produce excellent eating quality.

With a strong history behind the breed, when it comes to performing in the paddock, in the feedlot and on the plate, Herefords are making an impact.

Boost herd with crossbreeding

It's not only in a purebred operation where Herefords thrive. They can also boost productivity in a cross-breeding operation.

This is the advice from Dr Phil Holmes, who says crossbreeding can bring an extra 10 per cent in yield through hybrid vigour.

Dr Holmes has worked with six large beef production herds across NSW, which produce black baldy cattle, for the past 30 years, and says they have never let him down.

"There's so much going for [the Hereford breed], especially on bull costs," he said.

"No one talks about bull cost per calf born, but it has a fairly potent financial effect on the herd."

According to Dr Holmes' research, Hereford bulls have much better longevity than other breeds for a range of reasons.

At the time of his reseach, Dr Holmes found the main cause of failure in bulls from some other breeds was penis related, followed by leg/joint related injury.

"In my data set Hereford bulls last an average of 4.9 matings," he said.

This is almost double that of some other breeds.

Fantastic in feedlots

Herefords are also turning heads in feedlots, with a line of cattle gaining a whopping three kilograms a day recently.

A line of Willinga Park Herefords at the Royal Oak Beef Feedlot achieved a feed conversion ratio of five-to-one to beat all benchmarks set since the West Wyalong facility began operations three years ago.

The high-performing cattle came from a 2100-head line sourced from multiple vendors by Willinga Park, which were grown out at its 2000-hectare backgrounding property Hillcrest, Murrumbateman.

Royal Oak Beef has fed two lines of the milk-tooth steers, including 350 head which completed a 60-day feed program and were processed at Teys in Tamworth for Woolworths.

QUALITY: Devon Court Herefords won Class 38 champion carcase for a purebred Hereford steer at the iconic RNA Paddock to Palate competition.

These cattle had an average induction weight of 382 kilograms, which was converted to 590kg live weight and 310kg dressed weight, achieving an impressive daily weight gain of 3.22kg per day.

Royal Oak Beef co-owner and feedlot manager Greg Clarke immediately saw the cattle would achieve strong results as they had the ideal temperament to quickly settle straight onto feed.

"When the consignment turned up, I thought they looked like perfect feeder steers," he said.

"They had plenty of frame, were well bred, and had come straight off a wintery Murrumbateman season to our feedlot here, where it was warmer, which allowed them to hit their straps quickly."

"One of the biggest challenges with feedlot cattle is getting their intake levels up quickly, but that was no issue with these Herefords - they hit the feed bunk and never missed a beat. These cattle had the right temperament and were able to relax onto the feed and get on with their eating."

Pat Cleary, ECM Livestock, who oversees procurement for Willinga Park, was blown away by the Herefords' remarkable performance.

"Across any breed, I haven't seen a performance like this," he said.

"Averaging more than three kilos a day is a massive number, and these are cattle which were already in very good condition - it's an outstanding result."

Impressing on plate

Herefords are not only performing in feedlots and on grass - they are also hitting all the right notes on the plate.

This was proven in 2021 when Western Downs seed stock operation, Devon Court Herefords, made history at the iconic RNA Paddock to Palate competition by producing the first purebred Hereford steer to win champion carcase in at least a decade.

For Devon Court Herefords co-principal Tom Nixon, winning the Class 38 champion carcase just highlighted the strength of Hereford genetics in producing high-performing cattle with efficient weight gain and exceptional eating quality.

"Our breeding program here is all about creating consistency across our cattle, and we felt the best way to prove that would be by entering a few runs in this competition," Mr Nixon said.

"We are humbled by the win, and to be honest, I had to read the results twice before what we had achieved sunk in."

Devon Court Herefords also presented five pens of homebred black baldies, one of which won reserve champion carcase in the 38B class.

With exceptional docility, fantastic growth and fertility, as well as offering plenty of market options, Herefords are impressing in the paddock, in the feedlot and on the plate.

This article is branded content for Herefords Australia.