‘Use top-quality cows for commercial success'
Farmer's Weekly|July 30, 2021
Simmentaler stud owner Willem Botha from the eastern Free State says the quality of the breeding cows in a beef cattle herd is crucial to producing the best product and hence fetching the highest prices. This makes them a key component of profitability. Annelie Coleman reports.
Annelie Coleman

FAST FACTS

High-quality female animals are a key element in a commercial breeding herd.

Although it is expensive to buy stud cows for a commercial concern, the animals that do not make the cut for stud breeding are a viable option for commercial breeders.

The economic realities of beef cattle production mean that commercial breeders can no longer afford to retain poor performers.

Willem Botha, who owns the Tendele Simmentalers stud near Senekal in the Free State, explains that South Africa’s beef cattle sector comprises stud breeders, commercial beef producers and weaner producers, the buyers and sellers of the beef, and finally, the consumer.

All seek maximum returns on investment and/or value for money. It is therefore the stud breeder’s responsibility to provide commercial producers with optimally performing seed stock that makes it possible for them to market fastgrowing and well-developed weaners. This pertains mainly to bulls and, occasionally, female animals, for the commercial sector.

The value of a top-performing commercial cow should never be underestimated, says Botha. It makes little sense to keep a breeding herd of substandard female animals, as not even the best bulls can cancel out the effects of poor-performing cows.

Nevertheless, because of the costs involved, Botha does not advise commercial breeders to consider buying stud cows. “A good alternative is to consider breeding female animals that did not make the cut for a stud or to make sure you acquire them from reputable commercial breeders. Whatever route you take, investment in the best possible heifers and cows will stand you in good stead for generations to come,” he says.

Female animals that were earmarked for the stud but disqualified are usually accompanied by a track record that includes performance and breeding values. This makes it easy for a commercial breeder to determine the value that such an animal could add to the herd. A good cow drops and raises a calf every year and produces weaners of optimal growth and weight that are marketable early on.

A top-performing adult cow that is of real worth to a commercial herd should have all the traits of economic value.

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