By Martin Bunyard – QCL
A three-way crossbreeding program is helping improve production outcomes for a Queensland central highlands cattle operation.
John and Jan Burnett, Bendemeer, Clermont, run a 10,000 head Braford based cow herd and cross Brahman bulls. They then use a third-way cross with Charolais and Simmental bulls to produce crossbred cattle that perform well in their production system.
The family owned cattle business also runs 20,000 head of commercial cattle across their 162,000 hectares around the Clermont district.
Mr Burnett said the three-way crossbreeding program returned high heterosis value and consistent hybrid vigor in their cattle production systems.
“We can maintain about 80 per cent of available heterosis using this crossbreeding program, which is very valuable to our cattle operation,” he said.
Mr Burnett added this type of breeding program sometimes required the addition of extra bulls during the mating season, which starts in early December. The Burnett Group often use the February All Breeds sale at Gracemere to source any extra bulls.
“Our main purchases of bulls is during the September to November months. We breed our cattle in early December, but if we need extra bulls to top-up we buy them at the February All Breeds sale,” he said.
“We normally purchase a fair few store cattle in as well, but recently we’ve increased our breeder numbers slightly and dropped back on the cattle purchasing program.
“Buying store cattle on the present market is not a logical decision, so we are currently reducing cattle purchases and increasing our replacement heifers and breeder numbers.”
Also putting pressure on the Burnett family’s cattle operation has been a two year dry weather period, which has resulted in them decreasing cattle numbers by 20 per cent.
“It has been dry across all our properties for the past two years and we urgently need a wet season to get strength back into our pastures,” Mr Burnett said.
The Burnett family hope once normal seasonal conditions return, after the dry period, they can continue to increase the operation’s breeder cow numbers.
“Cattle prices are good at present, so we have to assume the season will get back to a normal pattern,” he said.
“We will adjust stocking numbers to the amount of pasture we have available at the end of February.
“At the present time our numbers are light, so we will be looking to use this season to restore pasture quality and once we get through that we will adjust cattle stocking numbers to suit.”