Mzansi Agriculture Talk

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PART 2: Choice of breeding

“Getting down to the work – breeding and production”

This is the “type of business”. Surely these will differ between a stud breeder and a commercial breeder. The stud breeder should identify the needs of his clients and his aim should be to breed animals that satisfy the needs of his clients. The needs of his clients may also be diverse and he should be aware of this. 

In turn it is important for the commercial breeder to identify the needs of his clients, which include the feedlot sector, or maybe a niche market, and the consumers. After he has done this, he must also define his breeding system, which can be:

  • Straight breeding
  • Rotational crossbreeding
  • Terminal crossbreeding

Secondly, he must understand the role of different breeds in terms of adaptation to the environment and the breeding system, which can be:

  1. General purpose breeds
  2. Maternal line breeds
  3. Terminal line breeds

Thirdly the production environment will also have an influence on the choice of a bull and it is important to consider:

  • Environment which include temperature, rainfall, diseases and parasites
  • Extensive or intensive farming conditions

Lastly the marketing system should also be taken into consideration:

  1. Replacement policy
  2. Age at marketing (weaners or grass-fed beef)
  3. Niche markets (when a branded product is marketed the correct breed must be used)

Breeding objectives

Breeding objectives is the “job description” of the bull. The breeding objectives:

  • Link biological and economic factors
  • Makes a statement on traits of economic importance (economically relevant traits)
  • Puts the relative emphasis on each trait to improve profitability (relative economic value)

The following steps are therefore needed for defining a breeding objective:

  • Establish the overall goal
  • Specify the breeding, production and marketing system
  • Identify sources of income and expenses
  • Determine the role of phenotypes directly affecting income and expense

Table 2:  Example of Breeding Objectives versus Selection Criteria

Table 3: Example of the relative emphasis (%) on economical relevant traits for Angus sires bred to Afrikaner, Bonsmara and Nguni cows in terminal cross breeding. 

Table 3 describes the relative importance of different traits for an Angus bull if it is mated to the mentioned breeds in terminal cross breeding and was derived from a simulation study. From this example it is clear that the “job description” for the Angus bull is different when it is, for example going to be used on Nguni cows instead of Afrikaner cows. When it is used on Afrikaner cows more emphasis should be put on direct weaning weight, whereas if it is used on Nguni cows more emphasis should be put on finishing average daily gain.

Registration Certificate

A registration certificate is the bull’s “identification document” and indicates that the bull is of a specific breed and that it has been approved by the specific Breed Society to meet the minimum breed standards. It also contains some pedigree information and may also have some performance information.

Lookout for the next article focusing on getting the bull to markets. 

This article was authored by Prof Michiel M Scholtz of the ARC-Animal Production Institute, Private Bag X2, Irene, 0062, SOUTH AFRICA, Department of Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences, University of OFS, P O Box 339, Bloemfontein, 9300, SOUTH AFRICA.

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