Breeding

Salers_Breeding_01a

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The genetic purity of the Salers breed creates a remarkable degree of hybrid vigour in cross breeding programmes that correlates to strong increases in weaning and yearling weights.

Salers mature earlier than other European breeds. They produce a high yielding carcase that shows good marbling and minimum back fat.

 

Fertility
more live calves per cow exposed
Calving Ease
larger pelvic area than other beef breeds
Milk Production
heavier weaning weights
Growth Rate
faster finishing time
Carcase Quality
high yielding, good marbling, minimum back fat
Crossbreeding
hybrid vigour from genetic purity
Vigour
hardiness, survivability, foraging ability
Productivity
low labour inputs
Profitability
efficient beef production, maximum weight of beef produced per hectare at minimum cost
Objective Quality Measurements
breedplan, bull progeny trials and carcase evaluations
Commitment to Quality

Do Salers really Calve Easily?
Every breed claims easy calving, so personal experience of Salers is probably necessary to be convinced that they really are out on their own for calving ease in a beef breed. Talking with any Salers breeder should help.The US Meat Animal Research Centre (MARC), in the world’s most comprehensive multi-breed comparison trial conducted over the last 20 years established in Cycle 4 Phase 1 that Salers bulls over Angus and Hereford cows produced 97.8% unassisted births. In Cycle 4 Phase 3, the performance of females of various breeds was compared. (See table 1). Salers-cross females calving as two-year-olds had considerably fewer calving difficulties than traditional breeds. The table also shows that the MARC trials confirm that Salers cross females WEAN HEAVIER CALVES.

Breed Group of Dam
Calving Unassisted (KG)
200 Day Weight (KG)
Salers
85.7
523.9
Hereford-Angus
68.9
487.5
Charlais
72.9
498.7
Gelbvieh
70.7
507.7
Pinzqauer
64.0
508.1
Shorthorn
75.2
512.6
Galloway
74.9
449.2
Piedmontese
64.6
491.9

John Arnell of “Crescent Vale” near Tara was losing about 20% of his heifers with calving problems. He introduced Salers bulls and the losses fell to around 2%. Not only does John have the extra calves to sell, but the number of replacement females he needs to retain is 20% less.

Will Salers females Milk?
Research conducted in France with 4864 lactations found Salers to have an average daily milk production of 11.1 litres over a 274 day lactation (more than 3000 litres). By comparison, this same trial shows Charolais at 5.7 and Limousins at 4.9 litres per day. Also high protein milk necessary for cheese production is another Salers characteristic.

Do Salers have Bigger Pelvic Areas?
The Montana State University in the USA measured 153 Salers, 175 Angus and 94 Hereford yearlings and found the average pelvic areas of the Salers to 15 square centimetres greater than the Herefords and 10 square centimetres greater than the Angus. In a similar study, the Colorado State University measured more than 900 yearlings representing 17 breeds in the USA and again confirmed that Salers had, on average, larger pelvic areas than any of the other breeds examined.

Are they Survivors?
The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the USA conducted a study in which Salers bulls and Angus bulls were used over similar heifers to evaluate calving ease. Birth weights of calves were similar – 33 and 34kg – but the Salers sires gave 10% fewer calving difficulties.

Structural Soundness – for Bulls and Females
Bulls represent half of the breeding unit, but in many herds, little attention is paid to aspects of bull selection and bull management.

Eyeball selection of bulls, without any clear regard to functionally important reproductive traits, is still the most common procedure for many bull buyers. As a consequence, if you go to a bull sale you will see some bulls with reproductive, structural and walking abnormalities which are presented for sale and are purchased for use in breeder herds. Such bulls contribute to suboptimal herd fertility levels. The use of several bull soundness evaluation methods assists in the identification of problems. The physical examination is quick and easy to carry out and should be a routine procedure any time bulls are being inspected, for example, pre-sale, pre-joining and at on-property culling. It has been suggested that 35 to 40 percent of all unsound and sub-fertile bulls can be identified just by a thorough physical examination. Any abnormalities that depress the bull’s fertility during mating should be identified.

We need to continually remember that the bull should be regarded as a ‘sexual athlete, ‘i.e. an animal completely sound and with the necessary wherewithall and desire to perform the task we have purchased him for – the production of calves of sound genetic merit.

Structural soundness
A breeding bull should be a worker who is never ‘off duty’. He should be able to walk (trot) long distances, see, smell and have the urge and ability to detect females on heat. He should be able to maintain his body condition.

Under our extensive conditions, bulls have to be capable of walking long distances and of serving large numbers of females. Hence limb and body conformation is important not only for these reasons, but because these also contribute to the bull’s longevity and usefulness.

Important points of functional anatomy include:

  • Hind limb conformation
  • Hoof structure
  • Scrotal conformation and size
  • Sheath size and shape
  • Body condition/weight
  • Eyes

Conformation of the legs & feet
Examination of hind leg conformation is an essential phase in evaluating bulls. Limb conformation defects are often regarded only as blemishes. However for some bulls, blemishes often lead to functional problems as they age.

Sound hind legs are vital to the breeding capacity of bulls, since during mating most of the bull’s weight is supported by the hind legs. A bull with hind leg defects may also suffer pain on moving or mounting and this may interfere with his desire to mate.

As bulls with faulty conformation become older, defects become more apparent and tend to interfere to a greater extent with serving ability.

Frequently, one sees young bulls in which conformation of the legs and feet is poor. Look at these carefully before making a decision to buy.

Common problems in the legs include:

  • Sickle hocks and posty legs (Figures 1b and c)
  • Bow legged (Figure 2b)
  • Cow hocked (Figure 2c)

Hind limb conformation:

Hind limb conformation:

Many of these conditions are heritable, and given the enormous stresses placed on the hind limbs during serving, it is little wonder that bulls with these physical defects frequently break down in the joints, leading to arthritic conditions, particularly in older bulls.

Common problems in the hooves include:

  • Both hooves not symmetrical in size and shape.
  • Short hooves, worn at the toe, often associated with straight hind legs;
  • Long, narrow hooves with shallow heels, often associated with weal hocks and pasterns and sometimes forming scissor hooves.

Finally, the gait needs to be that of a well-coordinated animal. Particular care needs to be taken I evaluating older animals to ensure that arthritic problems in the rear limbs, joints and back, as well as congenital (probably heritable) defects, such as stringhalt, are not present.

The Walk
Bulls should normally place their hind feet in the prints of the front feet as they walk out freely. Overstepping or under stepping may be linked to serving ability of the bulls. Bulls that under step often have straight hind legs and have increased problems in the final thrust for ejaculation. Worn toes, an indicator of dragging the hoof would suggest the potential for an arthritic condition.

Structural soundness of limbs is not only important for bulls but also for heavy steers. In the past 3 years there have been reports of up to 30 percent of steers fed for over 150 days in feedlots for the heavily marbled Japanese market, which have not been able to be finished in the feedlot and have had to be marketed elsewhere. Ensuring steers are structurally sound before entering the feedlot can help overcome some of these problems:

Sheath Size and Shape
Large pendulous sheaths aren’t uncommon in Bos indicus breeds. Absence of a strong retractor prepucial muscle will predispose pendulous sheath bulls to prepucial damage and prolapse.

Eyes
Viruses, animal age, genetic background, UV light and solar activity have been implicated in the development of eye lesions. Bostaurus type cattle have a higher proportion of aquamous cells tumours in unpigmented or partially pigmented regions around the eyes.Eye cover has had little attention from some breeders whilst pigmentation has received much attention from Poll Hereford and Hereford breeders alike. From practical observations eye cover or hooding would appear to not only provide greater physical protection, but also ensure decreased glare, ultra violet light and reduced fly related problems.

Extract from Beef Genetic Improvement Project (QDP) “Breeding Better Bulls”

Live Muscle Score
A subjective description of the muscularity of an animal relative to the CALM live muscle score templates as show in Illustration 1. The name of the person who assessed the live muscle score, and the date of the assessment, is to be shown.

Frame Score
A description of maturity type calculated from the age/hip height relationship of the animal. The hip height is to be measured in mm, across the hips with a vertical staff as shown in Illustration 2. The name of the person who assessed the live muscle score, and the date of the assessment, is to be shown.

Pelvic Area
An estimate of the area of the internal pelvic opening of an animal made by a registered veterinary surgeon, reported in square centimetres, and calculated by multiplying the measurement of the transverse and vertical aspects of the internal pelvis. The transverse and vertical measurements are to be made available on request.