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Why the Programme?
The Beginning
The Present
The Future

The beginning of the programme was defined in 1988 with the arrival of a calf crop free of interference or assistance; low birthweight, polled Simmental.
The stud went expansionary in 1989 with the purchase of eight elite polled females from the Silvermoyle herd dispersal, purchased on eye appeal only, what we thought were soft, moderate framed and easy care cattle. This was still before the days of Breedplan.
In 1990 we embarked upon our first embryo transfer programme, flushing what we considered the best two females of those purchases, breeding them to new American genetics, polled low birthweight sires. We were impressed with the first calves from that programme.
Were we on track? We continued to use whatever polled bull was offered on the market by the industry. Not all of them were successful, some decidedly unsuccessful. We saw feet problems, we saw jaw problems, we generally were not happy with where we were going. The polled genetic pool seemed so limited to us. The choice of available bulls was simply an (a) or a (b), and nothing else.
We read of growth curve bending bulls in North America. We often wondered just how we could get our hands on some of those genetics.
So in 1993 we embarked on another journey into the cattle unknown. We went to the United States in search of Simmental genetics. We found some fabulous cows, and flushed them to some of those trait-leading bulls, bulls that were trait leaders for birthweight and for growth at the same time, bulls that also had superior carcass traits. We bought fifty embryos down to New Zealand, and those embryos have contributed significantly to a Simmental herd that now has carcass merits way beyond the herds of many of our fellow breeders.
But we also made mistakes along the way. We tried using a higher birthweight bull one year, only to lose a cow calving him down the next. That was time for a reality check. Was it the bull, or was it the cow, or was it both? We were still breeding knowing just one half of this mathematical equation, the American epd's of the bull power. We still didn't have any "numbers" for our cowherd.
With the introduction of Breedplan by the New Zealand Simmental Cattle Breeders Society, and the performance reporting from our growing herd, that riddle was finally addressed.
Our first Breedplan report suggested that our herd was certainly on track in respect of birthweight, but it was deficient in milk. So how could we fix that? A few doses of Eldorado, Bavarian Fleckvieh, now the number one bull in the New Zealand summary for passing on milk.
But he was horned, and that would result in diluting the polled gene base that we were building upon. But we used him anyway and were lucky that most of the resulting progeny came out polled. And what fabulous females they have turned out to be.
And with further understanding of traits we determined that maybe our concentration on low birthweight was possibly not really what we should be looking at, but perhaps we should be looking more at "Calving Ease". Low birthweight did not necessarily translate to calving ease. Calving ease was still possible with a higher birthweight. We refocused.
The herd had now grown to some 150 females, by self bred females and by selective and strategic purchases from female sales and herd dispersals.