Getting into Angus

Many producers recognise that Angus cattle offer increased market returns and higher profits. This article covers starting up an Angus herd, changing your herd to Angus, and introducing Angus characteristics through crossbreeding.

The first step is to set your breeding objectives. Once you decide which markets to target evaluate your current position and work from there to achieve your goals. If you are starting from scratch you will need to determine which type of cattle you need to buy. If you have an existing herd you need to draw up a breeding program to achieve your production and market goals.

For some, pure breeding with Angus will be ideally suited to their situation. For others, crossbreeding with Angus will better suit their environment and the markets that they supply.

Pure Breeding with Angus

Pure breeding operations with self-replacing herds are the easiest to manage. Pure bred Angus bring the biggest price premiums with a wide range of feedlot buyers.

To view the requirements of the Certified Australian Angus Beef Program (CAAB) check the current information on the Certified Angus Group website.

Buying Angus females:

You have four options for purchasing Angus females:

  1. Angus weaner heifers
  2. Yearling heifers
  3. Young cows
  4. Older cows

Which option you decide on will depend on price, availability and which animals fit your production program. Other factors to consider are disease status (e.g. Bovine Johnes Disease), pregnancy status, and registration status.

Angus Australia services can help you source females:

  • A list of Angus sales appears on the Angus Australia website. Many of these sales are conducted by regional or state Angus groups, so cattle are quality inspected females of known reproductive status. The list can also be obtained through the Angus Society Office 02 6773 4600.
  • The online Member Search facility. The most up to date information on members including, herd size, calving season, and normal turnoff from member’s herds. MemberSELECT. Scroll down in the ‘Select If’ box to narrow your search- e.g. only producers in the Johnes Disease MAP. Scroll down in the ‘Member Located’ box to confine your search to certain regions.

For seedstock breeding use the Angus Australia website’s Angus Database Search to source pedigree and performance recorded Angus Australia registered females.

Buying Angus bulls:

Sire selection should be viewed as an important investment into the future performance of your herd. Over 87% of the genetic composition of a drop of calves is influenced by the sire selection over the last three generations.

Use the above Angus Australia services such as the Angus Australia website and the Selecting your next Angus Bulls brochure, to ensure that you invest wisely. Use both objective information, EBVs, $Indexes and visual appraisal and focus on traits identified as important for achieving your breeding objectives. Be particularly careful to select bulls that suit your environment, your target market, and your cow herd. For example, don’t just buy bulls from the same property as your neighbour because their calves always look good. Two operations can be identical in terms of management and environment, but if the cow herds are genetically different the sires best suited to each operation will differ.

Both yearling and two year old, ready to work Angus bulls, are readily available. Over 153 bull sales are held annually. Details of many of these are available on the website. The general quality of genetic packages offered by Australian Angus bulls continues to improve.

Grading up to Angus

Grading up to pure bred Angus is simply a matter of using an Angus bull over your existing cow herd each year. During the transition you will be breeding productive crossbred cattle with Angus attributes. These calves will be highly marketable. Angus Australia will accept cattle that are 7/8 Angus or better as purebred. Starting with a cow herd of a breed other than Angus, after the second cross to Angus, the progeny will have on average 7/8 of their genes from the Angus breed.

Crossbreeding with Angus

Crossbreeding with Angus is used in grading up, to reduce calving problems, and increase meat quality and market demand. Colour uniformity, pigmentation, and polledness are other benefits.

Because they have a balance of maternal, production and carcase traits, Angus can be successfully used in any crossbreeding program.

Hybrid vigour will have effects such as increased conception rate, weaning rate, and weights of calves.

In some situations, cross breeding can be used to maintain a certain breed mix to make use of adapted genetics which are needed for certain environments. A good example of this is the use of Bos Indicus X Angus cross cattle in northern Australia.

You will need to decide whether you breed or purchase your replacement females. You should consider paddock availability, your time, and your attitude towards disease risks.