In any individual characteristic we don’t claim that Senepols don’t have their equal, we do claim however that in a Tropical/Subtropical environment they are an overall package that can’t be beaten by any other single breed. They should be considered for use in all commercial operations.
WHAT CAN SENEPOLS DO FOR OTHER BREEDS:
The “Namoona Trig” Senepol cattle breeding herd is run on pasture under challenging environmental & nutritional conditions. At times, particularly at the end of a tough winter a lot of our breeding herd can be a little on the lean side, these cattle can be taken almost anywhere else & they will thrive; they will noticeably jump out of their skins. You can rest assured that cattle purchased from us will perform in almost all environments. It is a fact, coastal bred cattle do respond very well when taken west, without an adaptation phase.
TECHNOLOGY & SEEDSTOCK PRODUCTION: Col’s Philosophy!
Embryo Transfer: This is how Senepol cattle established in Autsralia, as a result we probably have as good an average quality of Senepol cattle as anywhere in the world. Anybody in their right mind would only import embryos from the superior end of the gene pool that exists in St Croix & the US. That said; after the initial establishment of the breed continuous widespread use of ET would diminish the gene pool & potentially result in the inability to determine performance in a natural production situation.
A.I.: Again, widely used it can widen a herds gene pool. Alternatively overuse of prominent bulls can result in diminishing the gene pool overall. Beware of using bulls just because they are genetically different or because they are imported. Some of the best quality A.I. registered sires are in fact Australian bred.
EBV’s: In a perfect world of cattle husbandry I’m sure they are very beneficial & useful! At the base of it all it relies on honesty. Although the system works on generational data there are other factors that come into play. In order for most data measured to have any degree of accuracy there needs to be a large contemporary groups under conditions of good nutrition—not necessarily typical of the commercial world. It is not infrequent to see 3 calves suckling one Senepol cow, the best doing calves are probably the older thieves while the cows own calf can suffer, when in fact genetically it is likely to be the highest performing calf. Maybe there is selection for the more resourceful calves which may in fact be from low milk backgrounds. Selecting for high growth EBV’s alone is selecting for larger cattle, larger calf birth weights & ultimately less efficiency. The Angus breed in the USA has been through this phase, now they seem to be selecting for more moderate outcomes. For carcass EBV’s to be meaningful the cattle should be in good condition for for measured data to be particularly relevant. There seems to be a preoccupation with EMA. Remember the work Professor Rex Butterfield did many years ago, he proved the make up of muscle percentages in individual beasts was the same, no matter the shape or breed of the animal. This means that Friesian, Brahman, Charolais & Angus will all have the same percentage of prime cuts of beef! To come to this conclusion Professor Butterfield painstakingly dissected out many carcasses of all shapes & sizes. Selecting for eye muscle is certainly selecting for overall muscle, however it is in fact selecting against length. There is a preoccupation with selecting for both length & eye muscle, I’m afraid this selection is inconsistent.
GENE TECHNOLOGY: I can see this one day being a great tool for selection, however this is a long way off as it relates to performance characteristics. Even in the Angus breed where many markers are currently measured, many more relevant markers are required for this technology to be a stand alone tool.
We currently do not use EBV’s or Gene Marker performance data, they no doubt have their uses & should be used in an appropriate manner for them to be a relevant selection tool; we do periodically weigh our cattle however. We may in the future use these technologies; when we do, we hope to be doing it in the knowledge of their shortcomings.
There is still no substitute for a good eye & the ability to judge a beast with its clothes off as it were. To improve the quality of a herd it is a numbers game. When starting in the seedstock industry do you buy 10 superior animals & ET or do you buy 50 very good females & use natural service & or AI? I’m convinced the latter has the ability to give you a far better, more genetically diverse herd with a far shorter turn around time. Of the 50 very good females you will find that the top 10 are in fact of a greater quality than the 10 superior females & will result in you having many more options. Where one purchased the 50 they may, after determining their abilities in the paddock in the local environment, select 6 or so to ET, this approach is likely to result in a superior outcome.
We’ve purchased 97 good quality females, at this stage we have not ET’d, however we may in the future. We believe the quality of our cattle to be as good as any herd in the country. Because of the way we’ve purchased our cattle, over 30 different bulls have sired our females giving us a good genetic base.