Choosing the best bull for your herd

With thousands of Angus bulls for sale each year, from hundreds of studs, choosing not just the best bull, but the best bull for your herd and breeding program, can seem overwhelming and a bit daunting.

Our director Tom Gubbins has five simple steps to make your buying easier.

Tom says whether you are someone who comes with marker pen in hand, poring over the catalogue, assessing each bull visually and absorbing its figures, or a buyer who turns up at Te Mania Angus to buy anything out of the catalogue, you are both headed in the same direction.

He says buyer A is making genotypical decisions while buyer B is confident the Te Mania Angus brand will deliver them cutting edge genetics regardless of the bull, or bulls, they end up acquiring.

This is why there is a difference between the best bull, and the best bull for you.

To be successful at a bull sale, the first step is to know your herd and environment.

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your herd is important to ensure you can achieve optimum profitability. For example, is your herd experiencing calving difficulties, fertility problems or maybe lacking in marbling? Are your cows too small or too big?

Climate and environment also have an impact on your bull requirements. If you live in a low rainfall, extensive outback area you require a different sort of animal to someone in a high rainfall, more intensive location.”

Step 2 is knowing your market, because choosing the right market is crucial – “it gives you a target to aim for and allows you to put the steps in place to breed the right animal for that market and it helps you become a price maker, not a price taker”.

Which makes $Indexes Step 3, as they allow you to select the bull that will produce progeny to fit the specifications for your market.

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$Index values are beneficial in so many ways, even if you are unfamiliar with Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs), because $Index values will summarise the profitability of each bull for a particular market for you,” Tom explains.

“For example if you are breeding cattle for the grass-fed market, select the top 20 per cent in a catalogue for the Grassfed $Index and work back from there. Embrace Breedplan, it’s not perfect but it sure is better than relying on eye alone,” he says.

Step 4 is budget. Work out what you can afford for each bull and how many you need. Then go through the catalogue and cross out any you don’t like (i.e. not high enough $Index for your market). If you need 5 bulls, have at least 20 in the catalogue you like, as you don’t want to spend twice as much as your budget because you didn’t have enough options.

Finally, Step 5 is choosing your stud.

“You need a bull producer with high accuracy figures you can trust,” Tom stresses. “Actual figures in a catalogue are nowhere near as reliable as the EBV. Buy from a seedstock producer who uses comprehensive Breedplan analysis and large contemporary groups.

“There must also be an independent structure and temperament assessment of every animal in their herd, plus full vet checks and appropriate disease prevention,” he says.

“Also, choose a bull producer who offers great after sales service. If your bull breaks down, every day with an empty cow costs you money.”

The Te Mania Angus herd – a herd which has been breeding generations of livestock aimed at intensely improving commercial value and productivity.

All interested breeders and agents are welcome to attend the Autumn Bull Sale Preview Day (Beef Week) which will be held on Friday 2nd February 2024, at our new sale complex Te Mania Angus, 1830 Woolsthorpe-Hexham Road, Hexham VIC.

The bulls will be yarded and available to walk through, without the pressure of sale day. It is particularly ideal for AuctionsPlus users. Find out more.


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