Santa infusion paying dividends at Rosevale

Santa Gertrudis key to Rosevale method


Livestock Leaders
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ADVERTISER CONTENT: For David Greenup and his family at Rosevale Santa Gertrudis, Jandowae, Queensland, the appeal of the breed lies in the combination of the toughness that the tropical-derived breed possesses and their high weight gaining ability.

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Family calling: Three generations of Greenups - Seb, Sam, David and Grahame with bulls to be semen tested, within their operation which spans an aggregation of properties totalling 12,000ha in SE Queensland.

Family calling: Three generations of Greenups - Seb, Sam, David and Grahame with bulls to be semen tested, within their operation which spans an aggregation of properties totalling 12,000ha in SE Queensland.

ADVERTISER CONTENT: Since 1883 and across six generations, the Greenup family at Rosevale have been producing a first-rate commercial article on-property, a product which was bolstered by the introduction of Santa Gertrudis genetics in 1953.

Today, David and Sonya Greenup along with sons Sam, Toby and Seb, and David's parents Grahame and Peggy are all involved in the running of the business.

The operation spans an aggregation of properties totalling 12,000ha in SE Queensland with Rosevale at Jandowae being the home base.

Their country varies between highly productive softwood scrub country (where young cattle are grown out and turn-off cattle are fattened on pasture) to forest country (where breeders are run). To fill in the winter feed gap close to 800ha is farmed with forage crops grown, primarily grazing oats.

"All up, we run 700 breeding females in a stud herd, 700 breeders in our commercial herd, and between 400 to 450 bulls are sold each year," David said.

The stud enterprise was formed in 1953 when George and Heather Greenup (David's grandparents) pur- chased Santa Gertrudis bull, KRT Elation 35 (Imp), at the second King Ranch Sale.

David said Elation and other bulls purchased were mated to commercial Shorthorn cows at Rosevale.

"The majority of the Rosevale herd are descendants of the original Shorthorn cows."

While Santa Gertrudis struggled for popularity in early years, the lift in quality of the resulting calves that the injection of Santa bulls created convinced the Greenups that they'd made the right decision.

"This was the motivation behind grading up to purebred Santa Gertrudis."

David said for them, the appeal of the breed lies in the combination of the toughness that the tropical-derived breed possesses and their high weight gaining ability.

"This makes Santa Gertrudis truly versatile across a wide range of environments and markets and has them accepted as an excellent option at all points of the beef supply chain."

Producing a highly profitable herd is the Greenups aim, with fertility being their number one selection trait.

"We select for high early growth in a moderate maturity pattern with a balance of carcass attributes - but fertility isn't compromised."

The Greenups employ a three-month controlled mating strategy, from late November to late February.

"All females that pregnancy test empty at the end of mating are culled, as are cows that don't come in with a calf at branding time."

David said in regards to fertility, not only do their bulls need to be good calf-getters but they have to leave behind daughters that are highly fertile through varying seasonal conditions.

"Semen morphology testing and selection for high percent normal has contributed to the herd achieving consistently high conception rates.

"In addition, selection towards trim sheaths has resulted in Rosevale bulls being efficient servers who have longer working lives."

He said their most fertile females are generally born out of cows that had long breeding lives themselves.

"It stands to reason that bulls related to these females will in turn breed daughters that are highly fertile."

When selecting bulls for breeding, David said Days to Calving EBVs are high on the criteria, and are resulting in a female herd that can reproduce easily under pressure.

"We sell many of our bulls into country that is much harsher than here at Rosevale so we need to put pressure on our herd and make big genetic gains so that the bulls can 'get the job done' wherever they go."

In order to benchmark against the rest of the industry and make herd improvement, the Rosevale Stud herd is one of the most extensively and accurately performance recorded herds in northern Australia.

"The level of performance across all traits that Rosevale cattle possess is confirmed by viewing the highest $Indexing animals on the breed database.

"Driven by high performance across all fertility, growth and carcass traits, Rosevale-blood cattle dominate the top end of such lists."

David said while a focus on performance is evident, the fundamentals of practical beef production form the basis of their decisions.

"Our cattle have to get the job done wherever they go so they have to be sound, gutsy and easy to handle."

The commercial arm of the business which aims at growing and finishing cattle on pasture to heavy export weights for the EU market is the barometer for all decisions made in the seedstock herd.

"We aim to turn off two-tooth steers at 350kg dressed, while similar aged females are sold at 270-300kg dressed."

At present the family are becoming more involved in the financial benchmarking of the business.

"We're now more focussed on breeding cattle that will strengthen our business, which will in turn help our clients' businesses, so that we'll remain profitable and sustainable in the long term."

To further this focus, the family provide their clients with animals whose genetics are fully described by Group Breedplan EBVs, dam breeding records, semen morphology results, etc.

"This gives buyers the ability to select animals that best fit their production systems, resulting in higher success rates."

Over a decade ago the Greenups made the decision to stop showing cattle in the traditional way.

"Instead of taking animals out of mobs early in their lives to prepare for showing we run all of our cattle in large contemporary groups in order to more accurately identify superior genetics in natural conditions."

This particular emphasis has paid dividends for the family as in the last four years of Rosevale annual sales 567 bulls have sold to a top of $70,000 to average $8875.

"We'll hope to sustain this success when we offer 150 bulls at our 63rd annual Rosevale Sale on September 24, and through the further 250 to 300 bulls we expect to sell privately over the rest of the year."

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