Flowerburn win third
The 3rd annual Crookwell AP&H Societies, Commercial Cattle breeders’ competition kicked off again this year with participants entering in the annual competition, displaying their herds best cows and heifers for the judges and onlookers who travel to inspect each herd.
Judges for the competition were Alastair Rayner, Rayner Ag, who also judged the previous year’s competition and Marc Greening, Injemira Herefords, Holbrook, NSW.
The Commercial Cattle breeders’ competition is divided into two main categories, Joined or PTIC heifers and Cows and Calves. Entrants are required to display at least 10 heifers and 20 Cows and Calves with entrants judged on Frame, Condition, Conformation, Temperament, Evenness of type, % of herd and Calves.
Thousand Guineas suppliers, Flowerburn Pastoral were again awarded the competitions Overall Champion herd, after judges were finished tallying the points.
Flowerburn Pastoral have been in the competition every year since the competition began 3 years. Remarkably, they have also won Overall Champion for the last 3 years entered.
Flowerburn Pastoral run a herd of Sprys and Ronelle Park blood Shorthorn breeders on 3,500 acres of undulating to steep hill country in the 25-inch rainfall country of NSW’s Central Tablelands. The property is owned and managed by Dan Fitzell and his dedication to the Flowerburn program is clearly driven by his pride for everything he does.
Shorthorn cattle are run in conjunction with approx. 5,000 sheep on native and improved pasture at Crookwell. Annual surplus in recent times has been sent to JBS Australia feedlots, to be fed and processed under the Thousand Guineas brand.
In this year’s judging, Flowerburn were awarded first place with their Sprys and Ronelle Park blood cows and calves which were represented by 1st and 2nd calving cows.
In the heifer section, Flowerburn finished second, behind an entry of Shorthorn Angus cross heifers from Hollywood Pastoral. The 18 month old Flowerburn heifers were all joined by Fixed Time AI to leading Sprys bulls. Given the combination of points, Flowerburn were then awarded the Overall Champion.
In a break from tradition, Dan Fitzell also entered some of his Flowerburn commercial females in the commercial cattle section at the show. Females were judged individually, with Flowerburn also being awarded Champion Breeding Group, Champion Cow and Calf and Grand Champion Female with one of the individual heifers.
Fixed Time Ai has been a feature for Flowerburn Pastoral in recent years. In 2015, Mr. Fitzell for the first time, decided to AI all of the Flowerburn heifers. The heifers were run through a Fixed Time AI program with technician Damian Sotter, Beef Genetics, Bathurst. “It is well worth paying a professional like Damien, it made the program run easily.”
Semen for the program came from Sprys Shorthorns, Wagga. “We tried 2 bulls, with all feedback going back to Gerald Spry to progeny test the sires. We supply Gerald with calving ease details, weight gain and we will be able to supply carcass data as well.”
Semen was dispatched from Sprys Shorthorns to Damian Sotter, meaning that Flowerburn did not need to buy their own semen tank. “The program is quite easy. Cidrs are implanted on Day 0, Cidrs come out on Day 7 and heifers are given a PG, then on Day 9 all the heifers are AI’d and given a shot of Gonabreed. There is really only 3 days’ work and it’s done.”
Bulls go out about 4-5 days after the AI to back up the heifers. “We didn’t reduce the number of bull we would normally use, but the bulls didn’t have to stay out very long.”
A key to the FTAI program is that bulls will only need to be out for 30 days to ensure the females have hen been given 3 chances to get in calf. The results of the program speak for themselves.
“We preg-tested the heifers after the bull came out and we had 95% of the mob in calf. When we calved them out we had 75% of the calves on the ground in the first 13 days, from the first round of AI. 97% of all the heifers were done calving in 45 days.”
Mr. Fitzell said that FTAI offered a tremendous amount of benefits to the Flowerburn herd. “We spent less time chasing heifers calving and we were able to get a lot of jobs done with the spare time. The tight calving made it easier to manage condition scores on the heifers and now the heifers are set up for a tight joining, not only for the next joining but hopefully for life.”
For Dan, FTAI has been a very favourable experience, “The calves have a much tighter spread on age and were born earlier, which will mean they should weigh heavier at weaning and will be easier to market as a line.”
The system is part of an ongoing effort between Flowerburn and Sprys Shorthorns of testing genetics in clients’ herds, a venture that is ultimately beneficial for the stud as well as the clients’ programs. “It’s pleasing to work together to make the cattle better.”
Feedback from Thousand Guineas has also demonstrated the genetic merit of the Flowerburn, with the first feedback sheet showing outstanding performance for the program.
Given Dan’s tremendous record in the Crookwell AP&H Societies Commercial Cattle breeders’ competition, it is probably only a matter of time before they have to invite him to judge.