Farmers, Scientists Interaction Encouraging

Mecki Schneider, Chairperson of the Brahman Breed Improvement Forum, says it is encouraging to see positive interaction between farmers and scientists at a genetic and genomics discussion held shortly before the opening of the World Brahman Congress that took part in Parys, Orange Free State, last week.

Schneider, the only Namibian Brahman breeder to exhibit his animals at the World Brahman Congress, says no field was without its difficulties, but progress and meaningful collaboration made good partners. At the same discussion, Dr Michael Bradfield of Breedplan announced that Brahman breeders would be the first of the Bos indicus breed societies to commission an international genetic evaluation project.

Delegates raised concerns about standardisation, as such a project could mean farmers in some countries have to change their scoring systems, but Dr Mike MacNeil of the United States of America (USA), who acts as a consultant to the ARC, says if this was a real problem to breeders the values could be centrally standardised. “Genomics will revolutionise animal breeding,” says Prof Frikkie Neser, an animal scientist who specialises in breeding and genetics at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein. “Genetic markers are not a replacement for estimated breeding values (EBVs) and good genetics will never overcome poor management.”

Neser says much could be learnt from the dairy industry about standardising trait values and achieving genetic gains, and aises breeders to change their breeding selection goals if current goals were not in line with market demand.

Delegates agreed after some discussion that those who paid for genotyping owned the information but that, for the breed to improve, a flexible approach was necessary. Also, genotyping costs for bulls could be reduced by sharing the genotypes of animals commonly used between the four countries who would open their databases to each other.

Namibian farmers have various livestock species and within these species there are a wide range of well-adapted breeds and eco-types. Some of these breeds and eco-types are of economic importance, but relatively unknown. It is in this connection that the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry found it necessary to summarise information about livestock breeds in the form of the Namibia Livestock Catalogue launched last month. Farmers Forum started a regular column last week that will help serve as a guideline in livestock production. Today, Deon Schlechter looks at the Brahman, the most popular breed to be used in cross-breeding in Namibia. Over the past half century the Brahman has dramatically influenced and changed the composition of the Namibian national cattle herd. This is due to its ability to cross so well with virtually any other breed of cattle as well as its hardiness and adaptability, which allow them to thrive in the harsh Namibian conditions. . .

The Brahman: The best of Both Worlds! All the attention was focused on one of the darlings of Namibian cattle breeds, the Brahman, during last week’s 2014 Brahman World Congress in Parys, Orange Free State where Namibia was represented by producers from the emerging and commercial sectors.

The American Brahman excels in adding hybrid vigour to their offspring when crossed with other breeds, resulting in more money in your pocket as a beef producer. Hybrid vigour (or “heterosis”) is an animal breeding or genetics term that is achieved by crossing two different varieties, breeds or species. In the cattle world, maximum hybrid vigour is obtained by crossing totally unrelated animals, achieving the “best of both worlds”.

Because of this added hybrid vigour, the use of Brahman bulls with European or English breed cows is one of the most popular crossbreeding practices in the United States of America, with the resulting Brahman F-1 calf in high demand by cattlemen for replacement females or feeders in the feedlot.

Years of crossbreeding research has consistently shown that ranchers get higher levels of heterosis when you cross a Brahman with a British or Continental breed compared to just breeding British or Continental breeds to each other. Because of this, Brahman cattle are often referred to as crossbreeding’s common denominator. The Brahman F-1 cross is consistently superior to other crosses in weight per day of age and carcass efficiency. The Brahman F-1 is also very popular because these cattle display many important characteristics of their Brahman parent, such as drought resistance, heat tolerance, disease and parasite resistance and increased longevity.

Queens of cow country

F-1 Brahman females are maternal machines… .they have increased milk production, higher fertility, and wean faster-growing calves with fewer inputs. Plus, she will have a longer productive life, raising more calves over her lifetime than other breeds. In the feedlot, Brahman hybrid steers remain healthier and make the most rapid, efficient gains while producing heavier, higher yielding carcasses that are free of excess fat, which today’s packer and health-conscious consumer demand.

Environmental adaptivity

Brahmans have dark skin pigmentation, which filters the intense rays of the sun as well as keeps the breed free of cancer eye. Other environmental adaptations, which make the Brahman breed so well suited to so many areas of the country, includes the ability to utilise lower-quality feed, to travel longer distances for feed and water, and to resist insects and external parasites while withstanding vast climactic differences. They also have the ability to reproduce on a regular basis in a stressful environment. Brahman cattle show no effect from extremely high temperatures.

A factor which contributes to the Brahman’s unique ability to withstand temperature extremes is a short, thick, glossy hair coat which reflects much of the sun’s rays, allowing them to graze in midday sun without suffering. In severe winters, Brahmans grow a protective covering of long, coarse hair beneath which a dense, downy, fur-like undercoat can be found. An abundance of loose skin, characteristic of the breed, also aids in its ability to withstand warm weather by increasing the body surface area exposed to cooling. In cold weather the skin is contracted, increasing the thickness of the hide and density of the hair, which aids in retaining body heat. A special feature of the Brahman breed is their ability over other breeds to sweat freely, which contributes greatly to their heat tolerance.

Gain efficiency amp carcass quality

Brahman hybrid calves and those out of Brahman F-1 cows are noted for their fast gains, and it’s a fact that these calves consistently produce more weight per day of age than most other breed contemporaries. Brahman cross calves are more desirable to feed in many parts of the country during hot, humid months when the feed efficiency of European and British calves and crosses decreases. The ability of these Brahman cross cattle to finish during warm seasons is a definite economic factor in their favour.

While efficiency is an important quality of the Brahman and its crosses, the carcasses are known for their high cut ability, which results in a high yielding carcass with limited fat. In a recent study conducted by Texas AampM, Angus and Hereford cows were bred to Brahman bulls. The resulting steers were handled as calf-feds going directly into the feedlot at weaning. The steers were fed for 180 days and slaughtered at 13-14 months. The first calf crops produced 89 steers with no death loss experienced post weaning. Of those fed, 58 percent of the steers graded Choice, with the rest in the window of acceptability.

Tenderness readings using the Warner-Bratzler Shear-Force Test were taken at 0, 7 and 14 days. With this data, a rating of 10 pounds or less is considered satisfactory for supermarket sales, while a rating of 8.7 pounds or less is desirable for steaks utilised in quality restaurants. Eighty-four of the 89 samples were below the 10 pound level at 14 days with the best rating being 5.7 pounds.

Milk production

Add more beef to your milk programme with the American Brahman! The American Brahman is known the world over for their crossbreeding excellence, however many dairy producers in the southern United States and South and Central America also utilise the American Brahman in crossbreeding with dairy breeds. These dual purpose animals are the future of the cattle industry in the tropics. Using American Brahmans in the tropics will result in adaptability, fertility, disease resistance and longevity. American Brahman genetics give you heavier weaning weights, more quality beef, and more salvage value at production termination. They also add additional butter fat content and protein, as well as increased production and net income.

Recent crossbreeding reports from South American have shown the American Brahman to be an ideal cross with a variety of dairy breeds including Holstein, Jersey, Brown Swiss, and more.

Source : New Era