GLENAVON ANGUS STUD
In 1888, the White family of Edinglassie, imported Angus cattle from Scotland and started the long association with the breed in the White family of Australia.
F.J. White moved to Saumarez, Armidale and ran them on his Armidale/Guyra property’s. His two sons H.F. White and F.F. White started the Angus Stud at Bald Blair Guyra, this was split up in 1949 where F.F. Whites children, F.G. White and P.M. Bell (White) took on their share of the Stud and named it “Glenavon”.
F.G. Bell (fifth generation in Aust.) took on running the Stud in 1969 and grew it significantly in the following decades, with an on property bull sale beginning in 1984. From 2016 Richard and Prue Post (Bell) will be the sixth generation to continue the Stud operation at “Outer Bald Blair” Guyra.
Glenavon Angus Stud has 400 Stud Cows with 300 Commercial Cows (historically more commercial cows have been run until recent succession planning saw a reduction in the commercial herd). We use A.I. extensively each year sourcing superior and new genetics followed up with selected Glenavon stud bulls.
Around 20% of sale bulls are joined as yearlings each October so we get the benefit of the new genetics through our stud and commercial herds. The proof is in the progeny with Glenavon Breed Cattle regularly obtaining Record Prices.
The Glenavon Stud records with the TransTasman Angus Cattle Evaluation (TACE) previously known as Group Breedplan to generate Estimated Breeding Values (EBV’s) for a range of economically important traits.
With the commercial progeny we are aiming at the Japanese B3 market which requires structurally sound cattle to handle the heavy weight gains in the feedlot. The retained females are required to be fertile and rear calves for many years. It is important to have structurally sound cattle to achieve this. Any animal unable to meet these requirements are culled.
In June/July 2018 Richard spent 3 weeks with Dick Whale attending the Beef Improvement Conference in Colorado followed by a couple of weeks and 10,000km on the road searching for new Angus Genetics.
Having Bill Rishel in the car with us was a real highlight given he is a walking encyclopedia of US Angus herds and genetics. We visited around 20 of the leading Angus Studs, many of the major AI centres, large feedlots, NEOGEN’s testing facility in NE, and the USDA meat research centre. Having inspected hundreds of bulls we came away having selected the best handful that suit our objectives in coming years.
These US sires will account for 1 or 2 of the 4-5 sires we use in our own AI Program each year, the rest being leading local sires. Importantly the trip allowed us to see progeny of the sires selected so we can balance type, longevity and EBV’s in our selection, in addition to inspecting the cow herds that produced the sires.
Sydgen Enhance is one example where we saw the bull in person, his calves on the ground, saw his sire Exceed and also that of the cow family he came from. That gives us comfort to use him and we did in our AI last October with Calves due mid July 2019.
Musgrave Big Sky is a bull that has had a big impact on our Stud and commercial herd in recent years. We have 15 of his sons in our 2020 sale. Heifer calves have been a standout on type, they scan well for carcass traits, get pregnant quickly, calve extremely easily, and get pregnant again.
We look for stay ability in females and feel it is one of the most powerful drivers of profitability in a commercial operation. The US Angus has a stay ability EBV, we don’t at this point in Australia. Big Sky Daughters have jumped through the early hurdles on this stay ability journey. I saw the Musgrave herd, and then visited Bobcat Angus on the Canadian Border who owns Musgrave Big Sky. I gave him a big scratch, he remains very sound and super quiet. His calves at Bobcat where standouts as they have been in our own operation.
Key Takeaways from the trip firstly was the dramatic uplift in marbling of US Angus carcasses in recent years, due to ranchers often retaining ownership of the animal through the feedlot/abattoir and hence the breeder captures that uplift in value/profitability.
Secondly, it’s much cheaper to grow an animal out on grain than grass, in contrast to Australia.
Thirdly that Bulls are generally sold as yearlings, and many of those sight unseen which in my mind means we must be very diligent in assessing phenotype when the bull is fully grown which was the key purpose of the trip.
We recommend cattlemen look at the bulls, using the EBV’s as a guide to select the bulls that suits their own breeding programme, the country that they are to be run on and the markets that they are targeting.
A tip we also suggest to our clients is to go right through the catalogue, marking off all the bulls that would suit their operation. Eg High Growth, High in milk if more milk is needed in your herd or Lower Birth Weight for heifers. Then go through the Bulls you have marked on sale day and look at them visually to which would suit your cattle.
This is very important to look at the cattle not just the EBV’s. You will be pleasantly surprised what becomes available throughout the sale, and all the bulls in the sale will suit different breeding programs. It is always tempting to only select the best couple of bulls and then be disappointed when they go outside your budget.
We join our replacement heifers at 13 months of age to average birth weight bulls as we want to keep the progeny (low birth weight bulls tend to breed small pelvic area females, which only accentuates calving problems later on). We sell our surplus heifer weaners (13 months old ) at our Annual Bull and Heifer Sale at the beginning of August.
The Glenavon herd following testing in 2018 currently holds a J-BAS of level 7 as per our biosecurity plan.