Vaccinating feeder steers against Bovine Respiratory Disease has paid dividends for a southern NSW Hereford operation with repeat custom from a major feedlot.
David and Janelle Manwarring, Jugiong, vaccinate their grass-fed steers with Bovilis MH + IBR before induction to the JBS Australia feedlot at Yanco to prevent Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD).
Viruses and bacteria which usually live harmlessly in the respiratory tract of healthy cattle are triggered during or following a stressful period such as transport and comingling with other cattle. BRD is the most common cause of illness and death in feedlot cattle in Australia.
Production losses are felt not only in deaths of severely affected livestock but in reduced average daily gains and lower feed conversion efficiency. Clinical signs are fever, watery nasal discharge, lethargy, lack of appetite, cough, rapid shallow breathing and an unwillingness to move.
The recommended vaccines are Bovilis MH + IBR (two vaccinations from 14 to 180 days apart) and Bovishield MH (helps protect against one of the most common bacteria involved).
For the Manwaring family, the feedlot pays a premium for their vaccinated cattle.
“We vaccinate the calves with Bovilis MH + IBR at weaning and they require the second shot within four months, or just before they are turned off,” David said.
“If people want to go down the feedlot market route, I would encourage them to vaccinate their cattle as it does pay. The steer is in the crush anyway receiving a 5-in1 at weaning, so it is not an extra amount of work.
“It gives us another marketing option and the buyer knows they are getting a reliable product.”
Since settling Rose View in 1873, the Manwaring family have always been dedicated commercial Hereford breeders across three generations.
The couple established the seedstock herd in 2000 and run 100 stud and 150 commercial breeders.
They focus on doability in the cow herd to ensure business sustainability during challenging seasonal conditions. The property sits in a 600mm rainfall zone and often experiences harsh winters and dry summers.
David classes all heifers and is strict on conformation and fertility.
“There is no point breeding bulls if they can’t walk or get around this hilly country, they need to be structurally correct and they have the longevity during their breeding lives,” David said.
“We can’t afford to follow any animal around with a feed bucket. All bulls are paddock reared.”
The cattle must dovetail with a sheep enterprise of 700 Merino and 200 crossbred ewes, with an integrated grazing for both species.
Steers are weaned onto oat crops and the sheep onto grazing barley in the autumn-winter. In the past steers were sold direct to processors for grass fed programs or as heavy steers in the prime markets.
“The steers are usually yard weaned at around eight months, fed on hay and educated through the yards for three weeks to get them used to people,” David said.
“They are finished on the oat crop to 480-500kg liveweight before being turned off to the feedlot.”
David is selecting sires above average for intramuscular fat, eye muscle area and positive fats to breed these feeder steers.
He said the Hereford temperament meant the steers settled onto feed quickly, resulting in weight gain, and socialised easily with other cattle in the pens.
“Their finishing ability means they don’t have to be on grain for long periods. That’s why now we are looking for bulls with fat cover and IMF, and we aim to use feedback to fine tune our breeding.”