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2011 North American Report

From July 4th to July 18th 2011, I visited the USA, with a side trip to Calgary in Canada for the Stampede. A large part of the trip was with a tour group of Australian Angus breeders organized by David Plant of Southern Cross Genetics (SCG) and ABS’ Bill Cornell.

The touring party consisted of:

Ed & Frank Archer, Landfall Angus, Tasmania
Hugh & Will Caldwell, Milwillah Angus at Young, NSW
Richard Cannon, Hazeldean Angus, Hay, NSW
Dennis Chandler, Yalkuri Angus, South Australia
Bill Cornell ABS Global
Dennis Ginn, Yancowinna Angus, Victoria
Nanni di Giorgio, Sterita Park Angus, South Australia
James Fraser, Stern Angus, NZ
Brian Mobbs, High Spa Angus, Victoria
Nick & Sarah Moyle, Pathfinder Angus, Victoria
David, Luke & Kym Plant, Southern Cross Genetics
Ross Thompson, Millah Murrah Angus, Bathurst, NSW
Scot Wright, Charlyn Angus, King Island
Trevor Wright, Mount Fyans Angus, Victoria

It was a tremendous experience for all of us who toured and many thanks go to David and Bill for putting it all together.

Before joining the SCG tour, on the recommendation of Dick Whale, I visited Rick Blanshard’s Silveira Bros Angus herd at Firebaugh in California. One of the most promising sires of the trip was located here, in Silveiras Conversion 8064.

Rick has had a lot of show ring success with his Angus as well as being a keen exponent of objective performance recording. In my view there are some quite appealing types for the Australian beef industry coming out of Rick’s program and we will watch its progress in future.

Silveiras Conversion 8064
Silveiras Conversion 8064
Conversion Calf
Conversion calf

From Silveira Bros, I travelled back towards San Francisco to meet up with Brent Alger and inspect his rising sire in Australia, RM Ironstone 4047.

Although only in three score condition when I saw him, the heavy muscling of Ironstone is obvious. I also viewed his excellent full sister, 4040, as well as a number of yearling sons by Ironstone set for sale in two months. I was impressed with Ironstone’s ability to transmit muscling to his progeny. We will offer some of the first Australian sons of Ironstone as yearlings at our 2012 sale.

RM Ironstone 4047’s full sister
RM Ironstone 4047’s full sister
Ironstone son at 17 months July 2011
Ironstone son at 17 months July 2011

From California I joined the SCG tour group in Calgary to attend the Stampede.

Calgary Stampede Bull ride
Calgary Stampede Bull ride
Calgary Stampede Wild Pony ride
Calgary Stampede Wild Pony ride

Whilst in Calgary a few of us visited Western Feedlot, annual throughput 200,000 head.

Here we met with the CEO and major stake holder Dave Plett. This is a cutting edge facility in the world of lot feeding, with myriad trials taking place at any one time. The cattle on feed here are on a zero roughage ration, with minimal break downs evident. Customers are invited to participate in incentive payment schedules based on a percentage of profit. The counter side being that the profit share only becomes available if specifications are surpassed.

Western Feedlot Calgary Canada
Western Feedlot Calgary Canada
Nil roughage ration at Western Feedlot
Nil roughage ration at Western Feedlot

A clear message from Dave was that the number one priority for seedstockers is providing commercial cattlemen with bulls that make cow calf production easy. The ability to manipulate feedlot performance through ration variation makes it folly to place too much emphasis on the EBV/EPD carcase side of things if there is any chance of detriment to cow functionality.

The tour group visited a number of AI collection centres, viewing various well known industry sires, although because of the time of year we didn’t get to see as many of the bulls as we would have liked.

Intrepid co-tour leader Bill Cornell engages with Canadian constabulary
Intrepid co-tour leader Bill Cornell engages with Canadian constabulary

In Canada we visited Hamilton Farms Angus, home of HF Kodak and his sons HF Tiger and HF el Tigre.

Back in the US we visited Sitz Angus and Stevenson Basin in Montana and Lassles Black Simmentals, Shaff’s Angus and Linskov Thiel in South Dakota. The concentration on phenotype and focus on cow functionality, as opposed to over reliance on EPD data was a pleasing feature of all these herds.

SAV First Class and Kelly Shaff
SAV First Class and Kelly Shaff
KCF Bennett Total aged 12 years at Linskov Thiel Ranch
KCF Bennett Total aged 12 years at Linskov Thiel Ranch
1st calf heifer described by Brent Thiel as the best heifer he may have bred.
1st calf heifer described by Brent Thiel as the best heifer he may have bred
The LT Angus and Charolais herds were an impressive sight.

Without wishing to sound too patriotic, I think Australian Angus breeders have plenty of sound genetic options at home. With the easy transfer of genetic material around the world, we will always find and use good genes coming out of other countries, but right now, I think Australian Angus are as good as any in the world. And given they are adapted to and bred for our idiosyncratic production systems it makes good sense to use Australian sires, until “must use” genetics turn up elsewhere in the world.