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Durham Project

The herd consists of ninety registered mixed aged cows. They are daughters or grand daughters of some of today’s better known sires. Eionmor Ideal, Eionmor Mr Gus, Marellen Vagabond, Byland Instant Spotlight, Waukaru Chaps, Austins Gus S91 and others. These females have been randomly mated to Waukaru Gold Mine (USA), Belmore Hamersley (AUS), Bundaleer United Chief (AUS), Austins Goldship (NZ) and Austins Gus S91 (NZ), and will calve in September. Due to the fact that these cows are current New Generation Shorthorn Genetics the progeny will be very relevant to what the Australasian Shorthorn industry is producing today.

The Durham New Zealand herd is being run at 600 metres asl in a 100% commercial environment. After weaning the cows are used to clean up rough ground on steep faces and rough gullies; pasture which needs to be grazed off before winter frost to avoid cattle sliding off it. During winter they are strip grazed behind temporary electric wire eating poor quality standing hay. Once the cows calve they are moved onto autumn saved pasture. Baleage is carried because of snow storms and is only fed under extreme winter conditions.

We are extremely positive about the Durham Project and its future as Australia and New Zealand have many reasons to work closely together. This project gives us a method of identification of superior Australasian genetics and the ability to market these proven genetics internationally. Australasia has the advantage of being internationally recognised for our high animal health and disease free status. Our management and selection of livestock is carried out in a practical environmental and market influenced arena, not greatly influenced by popular fashion or fads.

We have many generations of BREEDPLAN recording giving us high accuracy in predicting the performance of livestock. Now through the Durham Programme with the feeding and slaughter of the male progeny we can more accurately measure and predict the carcase and fertility traits of the breed’s top sires in a commercial environment. While the Australian steers are analysed through a feedlot finishing system, the New Zealand steers will be finished to slaughter weights on grass. This will give some interesting information when comparing the two systems and the respective test sires through the use of link sires in both New Zealand and Australia.

In the future through the use of DNA testing and further DNA marker analysis we should be able to establish a truly elite progeny tested herd of Shorthorn genetics. These genetics would be available for use locally and internationally.

We are thoroughly enjoying being part of the exciting future for Shorthorns.

The core aims of the Durham research Project are:-
•           To organise a progeny test of young Shorthorn bulls from an elite sample of the Shorthorn seedstock sector.
•           To submit data to BREEDPLAN to assist in the calculation of highly accurate carcase EBVs.
•           To investigate and demonstrate further the role of scanning and carcase measurement in the identification of superior carcase sires.
•           To investigate the best system for identifying at a young age the sires that should be submitted to progeny test.
•           To enhance the accuracy of EBVs for reproduction (eg. Days to calving and calving ease) by mating as many heifers to test bulls as possible.
•           To use the progeny testing outcomes generated to demonstrate the benefits of well designed and structured breeding programs.
•           To provide a beef industry extension learning and training facility that focuses on improving the understanding of aspects of beef production particularly related to meat quality and meat safety issues.