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BEEF VALUES ON TEST WITH BELGIAN BLUES

Posted 23 May 2003

A NEW DAIRY-BRED beef project, launched at Harper Adams University College earlier this month, will use the Belgian Blue over part of the Holstein Friesian herd to highlight the significance of sire Beef Values to progeny performance and overall profitability.

The project, jointly sponsored by the British Belgian Blue Society, Mr Philip Halhead, owner of the Norbreck Belgian Blue herd and Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, will use two selected bulls over a total of 60 cows.

The bulls being evaluated are Valley Pedro, with a Beef Value in the top one per cent, at BB28, and Norbreck Superman, with a breed average Beef Value of BB8. During the project, the Belgian Blue crossbreds will be taken through to slaughter on a cereal beef system with bulls reaching a target of 530kg liveweight (310kg carcase) and heifers to 450kg (250kg carcase) within 12 months.

Gestation length, ease of calving and birth weight will be monitored along with progeny weight through to slaughter.

“This initiative is designed to highlight, to both dairy and beef producers, the importance of a sire’s Estimated Breeding Values, which estimate his genetic value ranked on his progeny’s expected carcase financial merit,” said trial co-ordinator Simon Marsh, a senior lecturer at Harper Adams University College.

“Harper Adams has evaluated various breeds of terminal sire, used over the bottom third of the college’s Holstein Friesian herd, during the last few years. We have recently completed a project that compared the performance of progeny sired by a beef bull within the top ten per cent of its breed with another in the bottom 25 per cent.

“This time we will be using the beef breed that is the leading terminal sire used by artificial insemination on the dairy herd and going a notch higher by looking at a bull with a top one per cent Beef Value.

“This new project using the Belgian Blue is a progression from our earlier work,” added Mr Marsh. “There is increased interest in the beef industry about Beef Values and this project should provide further proof of their merit.”

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For further information, please contact: o Simon Marsh, Senior Lecturer at Harper Adams University College. Tel: +44 (0) 1952 815 213; E-mail: smarsh@harper-adams.ac.uk o Mr John Fleming, Secretary, The British Belgian Blue Cattle Society. Tel: +44 (0) 1768 88775; Fax: +44 (0) 1768 88779 o Mr Philip Halhead. Tel: +44 (0) 1524 751 252; Mobile: 07949 733 747; philiphalhead@btconnect.com

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