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Stabiliser Cattle

Discussion in 'Livestock & Forage' started by Poorbuthappy, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. Poorbuthappy
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    Poorbuthappy Member

    Location:
    Devon
    I know there were various references to these on bff, but its not very easy to access those now.
    I am considering a switch from my beloved BrB x cows to enable a closed herd, in part prompted by a Tb breakdown.
    Having made the similar switch with my sheep, the Stabiliser concept appeals. Just as quiet, perhaps not the shape, but growth rates to make up for it, cheaper to keep, and easier calving, though have to say I haven't had much trouble in that department in last 12 months.
    Anyone got them and want to pass comment?
    Know of anyone in the south west who keeps them?
    Plan to 'grade up' from the cattle I've got, probably using AI to start with to make use of the best genetics.
  2. Walterp
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    Walterp Member

    Location:
    Pembrokeshire
    But why not just breed your own composite? You know what suits your farm much better than Mr Richard Fuller (despite him being the inestimable fellow that he is) so just buy the bull that is best suited to breeding your own replacements and start from there?

    Me? It's gotta be a Hereford, hasn't it?
    wellingtonfarmer likes this.
  3. Global ovine
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    Global ovine Member

    Location:
    Central Otago NZ
    I work with several NZ farmers with herds of Stabilisers. My overall comment is that they are very functional cattle and produce a consistant line of carcasses. I like the financial figures coming out of these herds and also from the improved modern Angus herds, especially those that calve as 2 year olds.

    The Angus breed has the most diversity, it has now split into two types of breeders, those who follow modern demands of the beef industry with fast growing functional cattle (same philosophy as Stabilisers) and those many small breeders with pretty cattle but less functional and poorer growth rates/ease of calving.

    If you can get access to a range of bulls (semen), I think you would be OK. Its easy to breed oneself into a corner if using a minor breed.
  4. Clive Tee
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    Clive Tee Member

    Location:
    Shropshire
    I went for a Stabiiser bull last year, just waiting for the first calves any time now, so no actual experience yet. I also liked the idea. Spoke to my vet the other day, really good cattle man, he has a customer with Stabilisers and says the calves are born small'ish and grow like stink, which is what they supposed to be all about. Fingers crossed.
  5. marco
    Online

    marco Member

    Location:
    tipperary, ireland
    We had our first batch of stabiliser calves last year and are going about getting rid of our Charolais bull witch will mean we have 2 st bulls. we'll just breed out of our current mix of suckler cows. But have to say very happy with the weanlings. we have about a dozen of the poorest looking weanlings out on grass. their all charolais. To be honest i'm looking foward to having 2 stabiliser bulls. hardy beggers
  6. I've just changesd from running a Blue bull and an Angus bull with out sucklers to just running Angus bulls.

    The reasobeing that there is a premium for Angus cattle, they finish about 6 months quicker and don't require about a ton of feed to get fat.

    I assume stabilisers are similar, but have made my choice now...
  7. Henery
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    Henery Member

    Location:
    South shropshire
    I visited James Evans at Patridge Farm, Bishops Castle back in Nov. he is all Stabiliser and very impressive they are. He has all the numbers and it makes sense if you think changing from your current breed is worthwhile. Lots of data available, low birthweights, high growth rate and FCR .
    Whats not to like?? :)
    GTB likes this.
  8. Clive Tee
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    Clive Tee Member

    Location:
    Shropshire

    That's who I got mine from. Good lot to chose from. Just a few miles away there is another breeder, Malcolm Corfield. He had some fine bulls as well. Prices from the pedigree breeders are fixed by the Stabiliser Company, that's who you actually buy from. Thought that was interesting and gives them more control over the breed from going off in another direction. For example, apparently any male born over 45kg (I think that was the figure?) can't be registered as a bull, and prices are fixed according to the figures. So I bought a bull that was at the top end of his figure range (and looked right for me as well).

    One downside though to be wary of, the main breeders HAVE to give priority to other new multiplier breeders, so you need to get in early I suppose if you want the best choice.
  9. foxbox
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    foxbox Member

    Location:
    West Northants
    James is a nice bloke, I've met him at a few Eblex meetings and he is certainly a very good advocate for the system. He's not slow to try and sell you some too!

    Walter, you mention breeding your own cross-breds and this is something I am wrestling with at the moment. Our current policy of buying dairy x calves produces high growth rates and good grades for the bulls, heifers are much more variable. Obviously replacements are cheaper than beef x but are getting harder to find. They also kill pretty poorly as culls as this seems to be the one time you really have to fight the dairy genetics.

    I like the idea of either breeding our own or buying in yearlings (the black baldie especially looking very suitable for our system) but that's where the problems seem to start! To avoid reducing our outputs by breeding our own buying in calves so that someone has done half the work for you seems like the best option and I guess this is where the stabiliser is really making a name for itself? As a lot of pedigree herds seem to run commercial herds along side I'm surprised the breed societies haven't decided to mimic the success of the Stabiliser concept to help their members and generate an extra revenue stream for themselves. It's only since I've started looking for a regular supply base that I can return to year on year that I've realised either very few people are producing native cross replacements or if they are it is not being promoted very successfully. It does present an opportunity in the future though as sexed semen becomes more readily available so perhaps a small pure nucleus herd on our farm is the way forward after all?
  10. Poorbuthappy
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    Poorbuthappy Member

    Location:
    Devon
    Problem I see with buying replacements is that if its from someone working on maternal breeds, they will likely have picked the best to keep for themselves. If they're not keeping their own, are they breeding with the right goals in mind? I found this problem with the sheep.

    Walter I know what you mean and that's the route I've taken with the sheep, but at this stage the stabiliser is the bull that most suits what I want to do as far as I can make out. It's a very slow process to breed your own composite to the level the stabilisers have seemingly attained, as I'm sure you're only too aware.
  11. Walterp
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    Walterp Member

    Location:
    Pembrokeshire
    I'm struggling with the Stabiliser idea - it's never really caught on, perhaps because it's never really been explained that the Stabiliser is just that: a stabilised cross bred dam. It's not a terminal breed, and is really just an easy (but, perhaps, fairly expensive) way to get a uniform dam across one's herd. In the US the beef industry accepts that some suckler herds will have their own replacement breeding program, whilst others will find it easier and cheaper to buy in replacements; Stabiliser cattle meet this need.

    Choice of terminal sire is, as ever, down to what suits an individual farmer, but a Stabiliser bull is unlikely to be the most suitable for many, despite their claimed advantages. The opposite is, I'd say, much more likely to be the way forward; ask yourself this: "If hybrid vigour is free, why am I not getting as much of it into my herd a I can?"
  12. marco
    Online

    marco Member

    Location:
    tipperary, ireland
    I like the way you can put down the breed so to speak, when you have no actual experience of the breed. my way or the highway springs to mind. Then main advantage i can see is if you have 3 breeds namely Angus (red & black), Simmental and Gelbvieh you have a far wider blood group to choose from.

    Getting replacement heifers from the dairy side of things is nearly redundant because of the amount of holstein in the national dairy herd. breeding beef suckler cows to produce beef calves makes sence to me. easy calving, high live weight gain.

    It's about working smarter. It's about getting the traits you want out of the different breeds.

    It seems to me the pedagree guys always seem to be taking out of the top few % and it's hard to get diveresty. And now the stabiliser are using the black angus as well thing can only get better.

    I'm looking foward to our breeding on farm heading down the stabiliser route. And with the price of meal at the moment large continental cattle do not appeal to me.

    curvebender likes this.
  13. Walterp
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    Walterp Member

    Location:
    Pembrokeshire
    I'm not sure that I was rubbishing the Stabiliser; the way Mr Richard Fuller of Givendale explained it to me when we looked into buying some, it's a maternal composite cow. The reference to it not being a terminal breed isn't my view alone, it's how he described the position to me. And he is the UK authority on the breed.

    It's maybe a bit like black baldies - although the right animals make impressive cows, you wouldn't mate them to a cross-bred bull because the results would be unpredictable.
  14. foxbox
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    foxbox Member

    Location:
    West Northants
    Ease of calving is often as much down to cow condition and terminal sire choice as with the actual cow confirmation though. Yes, generally speaking a beef cow should be easy calving but dairy cross cows calve just as easily if you keep them lean and are sensible with your sire choices. The cows that we bring in are not generally holstein type cows because obviously we don't want to invite problems but we are only assisting a few % per year so it can be done. I'm happy with the live-weight gains we achieve in the finishing sheds but sourcing replacement stock is proving to be a headache!

    As Walter pointed out though, one of the biggest gains you can get in the herd is hybrid vigour (with a 3 way cross calf being optimal, 4 way a few percent behind and similar to a 2 way cross, pure lagging at the bottom). Not only does it increase growth rates dramatically it also improves milk production and increases fertility so it has to be a main selection criteria really. Arguably as important though is a very compact calving pattern, our 4th cycle calves weaned 40kg lighter than first cycle this year, took longer to finish on bought in feed as a result and are another of my targets for improvement in the future. The cow remember needs to be a sensible cost to source in the first place and she needs to be cheap to maintain so the smaller the better. Stabilisers tick a hell of a lot of the boxes but I'm not entirely sold on the sensible cost bit yet!
    choochter likes this.
  15. Walterp
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    Walterp Member

    Location:
    Pembrokeshire
    Anyone any idea how much a Stabiliser bulling heifer is going to cost?

    And why do I get the feeling it's going to be more than I expect?
  16. choochter
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    choochter Member

    Location:
    n e scotland
    I don't know but I'll have a guess. £1500. I don't mind being told I'm wrong.
  17. Clive Tee
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    Clive Tee Member

    Location:
    Shropshire
    Last year, fixed prices for heifers were:

    F1 £950
    F2 £1050
    F3 (pure) £1250 or more if figures were special

    I think prices were fixed regardless of age. Hope I got that right. The bulls too are reasonable prices, not cheap but not silly either. Mine was £3000, price fixed by the company.
  18. CiderJan
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    CiderJan New Member

    Location:
    Sunny Cornwall
    I'm not knocking Stabilisers cos they are doing a very good job promoting themselves and are forward thinking in developing a maternal breed. However in a TB area with the desire to run a closed herd I would seriously consider going for a pedigree breed. Pedigree beef cows are worth £1000 more than crossbreds on the valuation table and in calf pedigree heifers are around £2000. TB's not going away so you're best to plan for it happening.
  19. Samcowman
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    Samcowman Member

    Location:
    Wiltshire
    What would a price for cows with calves at foot be? Or are they like hens teeth. Are they still sold through he parent company or do they get sold privately?
  20. James E
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    James E New Member

    Location:
    South Shropshire
    As you can tell I'm new to this site! but have been a long time observer on BFF. Being as my name has been mentioned and a lot of questions are being asked i thought i would join. Firstly Stabiliser are a registered breed with Defra so they receive full Pedigree compensation for TB. Also as Clive T mentioned all Stabilser heifers are sold Fixed Price this year the price is set at F1's £1000, F2'S 1100 and Pure's at £1250, which although may sound expensive is very much cheaper than a lot of pedigree heifers beng sold at the momemt and all heifers will have a Very High health Status. One of the most important things that all breeders of Stabilisers recognise is that they are a maternal breed and everyone I Know that went into them did so purely to produce their own replacements with the idea to putting a continental bull on them, but due to the growth of the male calfs hardly anyone has bothered to do this. I Still think the future of the breed is to keep them purely as a maternal breed and let people put their bull of choice across them!
    Walterp and foxbox like this.

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