Onwards and Upwards for James Evans’ Stabiliser Herd
James Evans, Farmers Weekly Beef Farmer of the Year 2012, has been a Stabiliser breeder since 2007 working within the Stabiliser Cattle Company’s production pyramid.
In 2007 James overhauled his beef enterprise changing from a traditional system using dairy cross-bred cows and crossing them with continental bulls, to an all-Stabiliser, fully performance recorded herd selling pedigree breeding stock and stores for further finishing. James claims that ever since he started breeding Stabiliser the performance and profitability of his herd has never been so good. ‘My whole herd output has increased with more fertile cows that deliver low birth weights, fewer barrens and the sale of more calves at higher weights’.
Performance recording of all pure Stabilisers is obligatory, and James see this as the main benefit of the breed. The business now has two suckler herds over two units in Shropshire- a 180-cow spring-calving herd and a 120-cow autumn-calving herd, with 95% of cows put to the bull weaning a calf.
James says that it is simply not possible to identify a bull’s breeding potential by eye alone and stresses that beef producers need to use Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) to identify bulls that are truly genetically superior.
Breeding criteria on James’s farm are strict to make sure herd performance is consistently improved. All potential breeding stock are ultrasound scanned to assess the carcase quality of his herd and identify animals with above average Muscle and Fat Depth EBVs. James says that by ultrasound scanning his cattle, it enables him to select animals with superior muscling across the loins. It also allows him to select animals with an optimum level of fat. This information is beneficial as it identifies heifers that will efficiently maintain their body condition score as mature cows.
He sees one of the main advantages of having a comprehensive range of EBVs is that it is possible to avoid extremes in particular traits and select for animals with balanced overall performance. This allows him to deliver a well-balanced improvement in both maternal and terminal sire traits simultaneously.
A new arrival on the farm is Givendale Mustang purchased from Richard Fuller technical director of the Stabiliser Cattle Company (SCC). This bull has a Muscle Depth EBV of 7.80 (top 1% of the breed) and an overall Beef Value of 44 that places him in the top 1% of the breed.
According to James, it is his attention to detail when selecting bulls on their figures that has led to a dramatic increase in productivity year after year.
Email: [email protected]
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Shane Conway – Signet