Lake Farm Beef » Uncategorized

By: Lake Farm Beef  06-Dec-2011
Keywords: Beef, Animals, Meat

He is a purebred Piedmontese bull – inplanted as an embryo into a big Simmental girl.

Although the Simmental momma is a big girl we still have to assist at calving – Freddie was a monster at birth. He also had extended tendons at birth (could not walk properly), so we had to work with him quite closely over those first few days.

There must have been some imprinting happen during this period – because has become so friendly to me. To his mother’s annoyance – he runs to see me in the paddock as I check the stock. He seeks me out and loves having a full body rub.

He is an absolute delight, so will certainly spend his days here on Lake Farm – rather than being sold for crossbreeding other cows.

Out of 43 embryos we flushed from our Hereford Cow (to a quality Angus sire) – we have implanted 27 so far. It looks like 20 have held – a 74% success rate. We are delighted with that percentage.

We implanted another 6 today (including two into one big cow). These are some older, less fertile girls, and also a younger pure Piedmontese (to have an easier first calf). I am not hopeful of such a high percentage take – but fingers crossed! I should know in 2 weeks time – those that didn’t hold should cycle in 14 days.

I have a further plan to implant more eggs (still have 10 left), so I will try to match them so that those who cycle in 14 days can be included with the next lot of recipients.

Colin Brown
14th October, 2010

Piedmontese cattle are a unique breed. Their mutated myostatin gene is different to other double muscled breeds. The gene provides meat that is exceptionally tender, and also very healthy, low in cholestrol and high is essential fatty acids

In their purebred form, Piedmontese cattle produce meat that is so exceptionally lean, it has almost zero fat cover, and very little marbling. Whilst that’s great for very health conscious meat eaters, its not necessarily what the average beef consumer is looking for. This exceptional leaness is expressed so dramatically because pure Piedmontese cattle have two copies of this naturally mutated myostatin gene. When Piedmontese are crossed with another beef breed, the resulting offspring have one copy of the gene, and the expression is reduced. In my opinion, a crossbred “single copy” animal produces the better carcass, from a beef perspective:

** It provides a significantly superior carcass to the original beef breed it is crossed with because of the extra meat yield and decreased bone mass
** It reduce the fat content, making the beef more healthy, without losing the tastiness.
** It adds tenderness to the cross.

It is important to understand:

Single copy animals produce great beef, and double copy animals do not. From a beef perspective double copy animals should be used for breeding, and single copy animals raised for beef.

With this in mind, its important to understand the genetic consequences of crossing single and double copy animals – how many copies of the unique myostatin gene will be present:

1.Double copy animals, when crossed, will always throw double copy offspring
2.Double copy animals crossed with zero copy animals will always throw offspring with a single copy
3.Double copy animals crossed with single copy animals will throw a double copy 50% of the time and single copy 50% of the time.
4.A single copy animal crossed to a zero copy animal will throw offspring with a single copy 50% of the time, and 50% without a copy.
5.Two single copy animals, when crossed, will throw a double copy animal 25% of the time, and a single copy animal 75% of the time.

Most cattle breeds like to promote their breed as great terminal sires. In the case of Piedmontese, understanding the above genetic consequences means that Piedmontese crossings should very much be looked at terminally, from a beef perspective. Animals crossed with Piedmontese should be killed for beef, unless the crossing is for a composite breeding program. If a Piedmontese cross animal is re-mated to a two copy Piedmontese animal, 50% of the time a double copy offspring will result. If it is mated with another single copy animal – 25% of the time a double copy animal will result. Remember – two copy animals should only be used for breeding – not for beef!

A two copy animal, therefore, does not have to be a pure Piedmontese animal. Some composite breeding programs are producing pure red or pure black stock with 2 copies of this unique gene. It is equally important to understand that animals with 2 copies of this gene will replicate exactly the leanness and tenderness of a pure Piedmontese animal, so powerful is this unique myostatin gene.

So, is there a “best breed” to cross a Piedmontese over? It would be presumptuous to say that only one breed was the best. One of the great attributes of Piedmontese is that they will tenderise any cross, so breeds that are not regarded as providing tender meat still produce tender offspring, when crossed with Piedmontese.

My experience to date has been that European cattle – Simmentals, Limousin etc are quite lean breeds, and when crossed with Piedmontese produce carcasses that could still be regarded as too lean (despite the high yield). I have had Simmental/Piedmontese crossed cattle that have graded Prime, but many have graded Lean and some even with very limited fat. This observation is based purely on grass fed beef. My understanding is that European/Piedmontese crossed animals on American feedlots do provide carcasses with adequate fat balance.

British breeds – Angus/Hereford and Shorthorn etc are breeds that have an abundance of fat (and are sometimes criticised for being too fat). My experience is that these breeds cross well with Piedmontese – to balance the fat content in the meat. Similarly, breeds that are derived from these breeds (such as Murray Grey and Speckled Park) also supply adequate fat to provide a good balance.

Hybrid vigour (heretosis) is a phenomenon that occurs when two different breeds are crossed. As there is no inbreeding limitations, the resulting offspring are normally larger than their parents. This phenonenon is reduced when animals are crossed many times.

My opinion (and I stress it is only mine) is that a single crossed animal with British parentage (such as Angus/Hereford), when crossed with Piedmontese will provide a carcass with a nice fat balance and also takes advantage of hybrid vigour.

In my breeding program, my desire is to have a mix of females:

Zero Copy females
Pure Angus
Angus/Hereford/Fresian (Hereford/Fresian crossed with Angus). By introducing Fresian the hope is to provide more milk supply to help grow the offspring.

Double Copy females
Pure Piedmontese (The idea is to experiment with zero copy breeds such as Speckled Park and Red Poll).
Angus/Piedmontese (to cross with Angus)

I am paranoid about developing very good capital stock for my Lake Farm Beef program. I want to understand the genetics not only on the bull side, but also on the cow side (where 50% of the genetics come from). I want to be proud of my cows, as much as any bull I put over them.

So the next few years will be spent on breeding replacement stock to our current Simmental cows. I want to end up with a herd that comprises the following females to crossbreed with Piedmontese:

** Pure Angus
** Angus/Hereford (Accentuating hybrid vigour)
** Angus/Hereford/Fresian (Looking to see how F2 females compare with F1 animals – ie Angus/Hereford)
** Pure Piedmontese (we will AI them with other breeds to see how differepital stocknt crossbred calves grow)

We already have some high pedigree Angus heifers.
We have a good herd of pure Piedmontese.

The next step, therefore, is to breed some good Angus/Hereford animals. With this in mind, we decided to flush a nice Hereford cow we own, with good Angus Genetics. We have used an Angus bull “Yorkshire Te Mania”. He rates very highly for marbling, and we have some Piedmontese/Angus calves from this bull. They are spectacular!

What a great surprise! We flushed the Hereford girl this morning, and ended up with 40 fertilized embryos from the one flush. This is an unbelievable figure. The ET technician has never flushed more that 30 fertile embryos from one flush before.

We actually flushed 47 embryos, with 7 with suspect quality – not good enough to freeze. They need to be implanted fresh. We only had two recipients ready to implant embryos into, so we used two of these seven embryos, and froze the 40.

Just so you don’t believe the numbers – here is a photo of the 40 embryos, before we froze them.


My belief is that (with grass fed beef) a British breed is required to crossbreed with Piedmontese. The Simmental cross animals that I have raised to date still yield a tad lean (although the tenderness is great). An Angus or Hereford crossed with a Pied might be the best cross, because of the extra fat they carry, compared to European breeds.

With that in mind, last year I flushed one of my purebred Piedmontese Cows with a well marbled Angus, and we implanted 4 embryos into recipient cows last year. They have all been born, with unassisted calving.

I am absolutely delighted with these four calves (2 heifers and 2 bulls). They are growing so quickly, and so well. Have a look at one of my heifers – look at the “great arse”.

This is exactly what I am looking for – but, unfortunately, it will take another 18 months before I know if the fat content is right!

This girl is called “Marnie” – after the sister of a good school friend of mine.

Its nice to know that my blog is read around the world (lol – and not just by me).

So I promise to update the blog more regularly (although I have promised that before).

There is lots to update, though, so there are a few more posts to come!

While I was away, The Meat and Wool 2010 Steak of Origin Report was posted to all contestants.

This had all the judges scores for the finalists, and also the tenderness results from the scientific tests.

What determines the semi finalists is the “Scientific test”. Any meat where the PH is over 6.0 is typically associated with dark coloured meat and PH-associated toughness. In the test, any meat with PH over 5.8 is eliminated. Aside from the PH being in order the test to qualify the beef is a tenderness test – Kilograms of shearforce. This is the force to “bite” across cooked meat. Statistically very tender meat must be in a range of 3.0 – 4.5 (the lower the better).

From the report, I discovered that the most tender steak in the entire competition was one of my animals. It came in at an incredible 2.4kgs of shearforce!

This truly amazing – and something I am very proud of! Whats more, I didn’t even know this until this report was published!


We expected Beijing to have been modernised for the Olympics – and it was.

What we did not expect was just how sophisticated and modern the entire city was. I am sure that there will be some very poor and underdeveloped areas that we did not see, but the town planning that has resulted in the development of such a modern city has to be admired. There is no Resource Management acts to tie development up in knots – and the fact that the Chinese Government own all the land obviously make development a lot easier for them. Sure they will make mistakes, but the grown and development has been extraordinary.

And it was not just Beijing that was modern. We were so impressed with Jinan and its modern downtown. The trees and parks make the city so beautiful – even through all the pollution.

In New Zealand so many uninformed people believe that China is a third world country, and believe that the products from China are inferior. This month China passed Japan as the second largest economy in the world, and it won’t be long before it surpasses USA to be number one.

The train we took from Jinan to Beijing was one of the most modern trains I have ever travelled on. In 2012 they will have bullet trains that will travel at close to 400km/hour and take just four ours from Beijing to Shanghai. Wow!

Because we are so good at dairying, we believe that China will always be buying large amounts of dairy products from us (which I am sure they will). However, the underlying belief is that their agricultural infrastructure is very poor, and will remain so. Whilst I can’t comment on the climatic conditions for dairy cows (hot summers and cold winters), I am confident that if the Chinese Government put their mind to it, it will take a very short time before they are technologically superior to anything we have done to date. Their speed of uptake is breathtaking.

For someone who has travelled to Asia (and China) many times, I was still blown away by the development that has taken place over the last 10 years.

With business all complete, we were picked up from our hotel and taken to Jinan railway station, for the train trip back to Beijing. We had a big breakfast at the hotel, to cover us for our trip back. Haha – it proved to be a a gastric mistake for me!

The trains are always fully booked, so we were lucky to have pre-purchased tickets. We waited in a room at the station which serviced half a dozen platforms.

Once our train was called – we took the escalator down o the platform where a very modern train awaited us:

The trip back top Beijing was similar to our trip through the countryside on our way to the Great Wall. Every square foot was planted is some sort of crop:

It was a 3.5 hour train trip, and we arrived at a very modern South Beijing railway station:

We actually took the underground back to the hotel. It cost 2 rmb per ticket (About NZ$0.45c). That was a cool trip, and completed a very enjoyable trip to Jinan.

We arrived back at the hotel about 4:00pm, and after having a relaxing cup of coffee, we went downtown for another great meal and an “oreo sunday” at McDonalds.

Home to bed for an early night and a flight back to New Zealand the following day.

Today we flew to Jinan to meet of horse float supplier, and to view their factory.

We got a cab out to Beijing Airport, had a breakfast of Starbucks and sandwiches, and caught the plane to Jinan.

Beijing airport is very modern and very smart!

The flight is less than an hour – Jinan is about 3.5 hours by train. It is an industrial city with a population of over 6 million people. There are steel mills here, and also truck and car assemblers.

Despite the industrial nature of the city, if is, just like Beijing, very new and modern – with many trees and parks. We were very impressed!

We stayed at the Shandong Hotel – a new 5 star hotel. It was very impressive. MY guess is that there the hotel has over 1000 rooms. I enclose a few photos:

This is the photo from our hotel room:

After booking into our hotel, we had a nice chinese lunch (with Tsingdao beer) and then went to the factory.

The factory visit was very fruitful. Both us as the manufacturer got a much better understanding of each other – and we are confident we have chosen the right supplier.

We have two floats currently on order. They have just started production, and this is the photos of the chassis’s under construction:

After the factory visit we all had a nice dinner at one of the restaurants in our hotel, and then had an earlyish night. Our supplier gave us present of a loverly Jade ornament. We are very lucky!

The information in this article was current at 02 Dec 2011

Keywords: Animals, Beef, Cows, Embryos, Meat