Brilliant breeding

FINE BEAST: One of the Seifert Belmont Reds stud bulls.
FINE BEAST: One of the Seifert Belmont Reds stud bulls. Contributed

EVERYONE would like breed the perfect animal, but what would it look like?

Ian Stark and Jeanne Seifert are the owner operators of Australia's largest belmont red stud, Steifert Belmont Reds.

The stud is an aggregation of five properties in two geographical areas - Crows Nest and Jandowae in Queensland. Currently totalling 6000ha.

Jeanne's relationship with belmont reds began at birth. She is the daughter of Dr George Seifert who was the principle research scientist and PhD Animal geneticist, in charge of the breeding programs at CSIRO Belmont Research station in the 1960s.

Jeanne Seifert said Dr Seifert is now 81 years old and an invaluable mentor.

Ms Seifert said as a stabilized hybrid composite breed the belmont red was deliberately and consistently selected, generation after generation, for productive, profitable and heritable traits such as high fertility, high meat quality, fast growth, tick resistance, and docility, so that the most productive genes have been fixed or locked in, over time.

"The success of the F1 to deliver the traits you've selected for, largely depends on the genetic homozygosity of the parent breeds, as well as the genetic merit of each parent,” said Mrs Seifert.

"Put simply, the parent breeds need to be a pure breed or stabalised composite like a belmont red.”

"The high concentration of these favourable genetic combinations means when you use a belmont red bull, there is a high level of heritability and his calves will be very consistent, both genetically and phenotypically.

"Added to this is five decades of objective performance recording behind the breed, including in many major research projects.

"This long history of measuring profitable and heritable traits via Breedplan, equals high accuracy data.

"This means when you choose a belmont red sire with specific traits, you are not simply guessing.

"With a high degree of confidence, you can select traits, including ones you cannot see such as fertility or marbling, and you will breed that.”

Ms Seifert said the term composite or tropical composite was sometimes incorrectly used to describe different combinations of cross-breeds. These types of composites are unstabilized, and are usually a first cross, or F1.

"Often impressive to look at, F1 bulls have already benefited from F1 hybrid vigour, but this will not be transmitted to the next generation when used over cross bred herds.

"Often not performance or Breedplan recorded, it is anyone's guess about the heritability of his genes, good or bad.

"Favourable genetic combinations have not been selected in, or poor ones culled out, and fixed over time. Therefore, when used over cross bred cows, the genes carried in an F1 bull from his two sire breeds, will randomly and unreliably segregate, or be 'scattered', in his progeny.

"His calves will show large variability both genetically and phenotypically.

"Typically, they may be a 'liquorice all sorts' with a costly 'tail' of below average calves,” she said.

Wrapped up in one versatile package the belmont red is the only stabilized composite breed developed in Australia from crossing the Africander (an African sanga bos taurus breed) with British breeds shorthorn and hereford.

The belmont red has the tropically adaptive traits of high tick resistance, heat tolerance and hardiness in very tough environments with high fertility, growth, docility and easy calving from the Africander, combined with the high fertility, growth and superior carcase qualities inherited from the shorthorn and hereford.

Topics:  belmont reds breeding genetics