The rise and accuracy of estimated breeding values (EBVs) for beef cattle has meant more and more breeding decisions are made using figures.
For Ben and Wendy Mayne, “Doongara”, Warialda, the compilation of data through Practical Systems’ Stockbook Livestock Management Software often tells them a tale they didn’t even expect.
The Mayne family’s Texas Angus Stud at Warialda, has risen to become one of the more prominent studs in the Angus breed, selling all 133 bulls offered at last year’s on-property bull sale to average $6405. Like their peers, they too started their foray into data collection manually – until it all got too complicated.
“We had pieces of paper everywhere and if you wanted to know something about an animal you had to look through a heap of paperwork, whereas now it’s all in front of you,” Ben says.
The Mayne’s have been using Stockbook for over a decade.
“Pretty much a lot of the management decisions are done on Stockbook now,” he says.
Ben and Wendy record the full range of data, including animal health, pedigree, performance of genetic siblings, and of key value to the stud – temperament.
“Any animal that shows bad temperament is marked on the system and if that animal gets another mark, that animal’s gone,” Ben explains. “That second mark can simply come by looking at the temperament of that animal’s mother or sister.”
The Mayne’s set up their laptop computer in the cattle yards when classing, and used the breeding parameters of EBVs to correctively sire mate.
“We’ve culled out family lines purely on recorded history, and then there are other family lines that we didn’t think much of that we’ve elevated after analysing their family’s data,” Ben says. “Structure, hair type, fertility – these traits to all measured and recorded as well to provide a complete picture of animal.”
The Mayne family run 600 Angus breeders at their North West NSW property, including heifers. They sell more than 200 bulls a year – including 130 to 140 at auction.