The “calf factories” of the Burnett Group are Jo Jo, Monteagle and Frankfield, with each of these properties running breeding herds of between 3 000 and 4 000 head. The main philosophy behind all our commercial breeding systems is to utilise the benefits of cross-breeding and to harness the productivity gains associated with hybrid vigour.
On Jo Jo and Monteagle, a rotational, three-way cross-breeding system is used to maintain hybrid vigour and maximise the genetic potential of all the progeny produced. This results in cost benefits right through our production line; from the steers being finished through to slaughter weights on our fattening properties, and the best heifers being used as replacements in the various breeder herds.
The Frankfield breeding system still utilises the benefits of cross-breeding, but due to the genetic make-up of the herd when the property was purchased in 2003, it was decided that a simpler two-way composite breeding system was more suited to the Frankfield operation.
Three-way Rotational Cross
In the three-way cross-breeding system Braford cows are mated to Brahman bulls producing high content, ¾ Brahman-cross calves. Females from this cross are eventually mated to Simmental/Charolais bulls producing cross-bred Euro calves. These heifers are then joined to Braford bulls producing a predominately Braford calf. These calves complete the rotation with the heifers from this cross being mated to Brahman bulls, thus the cycle starts again.
Within the Burnett Group, almost two thirds of the commercial breeders are managed using this system. Consequently, most of the home bred steers produced, grown and finished are born out of this rotational, three-way cross.
Two-way Composite Cross
The two-way composite breeding system used at Frankfield involves the breeders being split into two main herds based on their Brahman Content. The lower Brahman content cows are joined to high content Brahman and Brahman-cross bulls. Conversely, the breeder cows with higher Brahman content are mated to European and British pure-bred and cross-bred bulls. For the most part, heifers born from the high Brahman content cows end up with the low content breeders and the opposite is true for heifers born out of the low content cows.
Using this system, a degree of hybrid vigour is able to be maintained throughout both breeding herds, which provides productivity gains throughout the company’s cattle breeding, growing and fattening systems.
Most of the bulls used at Frankfield are produced from the Bull Breeding herds at Bendemeer but a small number of pure-bred and cross-bred bulls are bought from outside producers each year.
"I worked with the Burnett Group for over 5 years and can not speak highly enough of the support and guidance that I received in this time. I was initially employed as a Stationhand, however then moved into the Headstockman position at Frankfield. My partner Holly and I were sad to leave, but we have left with a great memories and the knowledge to pursue other interests in the beef cattle industry."