Crossbreds show production advantage under NT conditions

A study comparing tropically adapted Taurus crossbreds versus straightbred Brahman calves in the NT’s Victoria River District has produced significant weightgain and other production advantages in favour of crossbred calves, under recent seasonal conditions.

A project summary was presented by researcher Tim Schatz, principal pastoral production officer with the NT’s Department of Resources, as part of the Kidman Springs field day held earlier this month.

The much-anticipated field day provided an opportunity for cattlemen and women from across the north to catch up on latest research being conducted by the NT Government’s Pastoral Production team. Almost 80 people attended, participating in an array of activities including interactive learning forums, Q&As and ‘in-the-paddock’ discussions.

The biennial Kidman Springs field day provides an excellent opportunity for beef producers to obtain first-hand research insights that can be applied on-property, as well as to access and share local knowledge.

In the past, attempts have been made to crossbreed Brahmans with British breed Bos taurus bulls like Angus, Hereford with Brahman cows in the tropical north, but the bulls have often struggled to survive and produce calves.

Tropically-adapted taurus breeds like Tuli, Belmont Red and Senepol are better suited to harsher environments and may have more application as herd bulls in crossbreeding programs in northern Australia.

The NT’s DoR has carried out crossbreeding research with a number of breeds over the years, including Charolais, Tuli, Belmont Red and composites, however it is currently focussing on a major crossbreeding project using Senepols.

The aim is to investigate whether crossbreeding Senepol bulls and typical NT Brahman cows will produce offspring that perform well under NT conditions and have better meat quality than straightbred Brahmans. If this is the case, then the strategy would increase the marketing options for NT cattle producers, delivering cattle that would be in demand in both the live export and Australian processing markets.

The option has heightened relevance under the current market environment where the region’s live exports to Indonesia are greatly restricted.

The Senepol breed, under natural selection in its Caribbean region of origin, is a tropically adapted Bos Taurus with good meat quality characteristics, which is also naturally polled.

The NT Senepol crossbreeding project has been underway since 2008 when Senepol Bulls were mated to Brahman cows for the first time in herds at the Victoria River Research Station and Manbulloo, outside Katherine. The first year group of calves was weaned in 2010 and the last year group will be weaned in 2013 (the last 2011/12 wet season was the last time the Senepol bulls will be used).

The project is still quite a way from completion but [to view] results so far refer to the entire article at

By Jon Condon |
31 August 2012