Herefords have proven their weight gain superiority by placing second overall for average daily gain in Australia’s only grass-fed trial at the 48th Lardner Park Steer Trial in Victoria.
At the fifth and final weigh in November, the steers entered by Alistair Black, Riverline Herefords, Sale, Victoria, notched up individual average daily gains of 1.65kg and 1.28kg to give an overall average of 1.46kg. The average overall daily gain for the trial was 1.24kg.
Mr Black’s top steer was second overall in the individual average daily gain for the trial.
The winning pair of steers in the trial averaged 1.56kg which included the top individual daily gain of 1.67kg
Eight producers with 12 purebred and infused Hereford teams entered the Warragul based trial which began in July with 70 mixed breed steers entered from around Victoria from 25 producers.
The steers were grazed on a mix of ryegrass and clovers and supplemented with a molasses based mineral feed.
Entrants had access to steer trial data on interactive dashboards, allowing them to view the combined carcase and MSA information at the end of the competition.
The steers were processed after 160 days on December 4 at JBS Brooklyn with the carcase data to be analysed by Agriculture Victoria. The final results of the trial will be announced at Farm World 2024 on March 22.
The two teams entered by David Meikle, Tarwin Poll Herefords, Meeniyan, recorded an overall average daily gain of 1.36 and 1.29kg, while the two teams from Stan and Denise Walker, Charellen Poll Herefords, Pearsondale, recorded an average daily gain of 1.31 and 1.16kg.
The two teams entered by Cath Paul and James O’Malley, Molesworth Pastoral, Molesworth, had an overall average daily gain of 1.29 and 1.27kg, Steve Robinson, Moorville Herefords, Moorooduc, had an average daily gain of 1.20kg for his pair, and Geoff Gooch, Rathlyn, Sale, had a top average daily gain of 1.31kg for his team.
The black baldy team from Barb Stewart, Riverbend, Kernot, had an average daily gain of 1.39kg and the two purebred teams from Tim Hayes, Tarcombe Herefords Ruffy, recorded 1.26 and 1.18kg.
It was a first-time entry in the trial for fourth generation commercial Hereford producer, Alistair Black, who selected his steers on evenness and type.
Mr Black likes the breed’s fertility, docility and doing ability, and in modern times has used River Perry, Charellen and Mawarra genetics.
He runs a herd of 65 spring calving breeding females on alluvial soils along the Thomson River in a 525mm rainfall zone with help from his son Tim.
Pastures are based on fescue, cocksfoot, ryegrass, phalaris and clovers.
“As we have irrigation and flood country, we like to sell the calves before June to avoid calving during floods. Bulls go in with the females on Melbourne Cup Day for 14 weeks,” Mr Black said.
He uses BREEDPLAN estimated breeding values when selecting bulls.
“We use low birthweight bulls with calving ease over the heifers which calve at two years of age, and bigger bulls over the larger framed cows for good growth rates. The aim is for live calves on the ground and the last few years we have achieved 100 per cent at marking (including twins).
The herd is accredited under the Greenhams Never Ever program with steers and surplus heifers either sold through Leongatha store and prime markets or direct to the processor or restocker, depending on market prices.
“My brother and I had entered carcase competitions years ago at Tarwin Lower and I was encouraged to enter the Lardner Trial to help boost the profile of the breed. We all need to get proactive around promoting our own breed,” Mr Black said.
“Herefords are great for weight gain off grass and that’s what it is all about. I approached this as a learning exercise as you like to know what your cattle are capable of.
“The really interesting part for me will be seeing how they perform on the hook. There are a lot of good Hereford breeders taking part in the trial and I enjoy networking with them as far as genetics go.”