Tradition holds Simmentals back
Tuesday, 29 March 2011
By Rebecca Glover
Most beef cattle in Franklin are of dairy origin, derived from the large number of milking herds in the area. But dairy farmers seem reluctant to look past traditional choices of beef bulls to mate with their herds.
Stock agent Craig Gray says Simmentals provide better bone and better muscling than British breeds and superior weight gains in good conditions.
| Mother love - purebred Simmental heifer with dam. Photos Rebecca Glover. |
“In the past, farmers were put off ‘exotic’ bulls because of rumoured calving and temperament problems, but that’s been well and truly bred out of them. These days with EBVs (estimated breeding values) available it’s easy to choose a bull that won’t cause calving difficulties.”
Dairy farmer Noel Hosking has used both Simmental and Hereford bulls over his cows. He found no significant differences in calving ease between the two breeds, but gave up using the Simmental as there wasn’t enough difference in selling prices for the calves to justify the greater purchase price of the Simmental bull. “You can’t argue with market forces,” he says.
Craig believes Simmental cross cattle tend to be discriminated against because of their variation in coat colour.
Simmental sired calves may have a red, black, brown or an attractive grey coat from a Friesian dam, whereas Hereford Friesian crosses are usually black bodied. Many local buyers apparently like to have a homogeneous view in their front paddock.
“South Auckland is the black whiteface capital of the world,” Craig reckons. “If it’s Hereford Friesian cross, people in this area will pay anything for it.”
Elsewhere, Simmental cross cattle sell at a premium. Craig quotes a recent Te Awamutu sale where they were $50.00 ahead of whiteface weaners.
He says, however, that he has no trouble selling quality Simmentals: “Everybody likes them when they’re big.”
What’s more, with a looming shortage of cattle, there’s hope these big animals will be in even more demand.