Selection & Breeding

Xourel’s breeding policy aims to breed economical relevant animals, which can handle themselves in hardy conditions, while maintaining high potential, high production and structural soundness! Xourel places a high value on selection for the following traits:

Fertility - Through the selection of scrotal circumference, days to calving and conception rates we manage to select for higher fertility.

Economic growth - High weaning, 400 and 600 day weights are economically important and are balanced with high milk selection.

Golden Triangle - A cow should calve the biggest possible calf, unassisted, year in and year out and the female progeny should do the same. A slightly bigger calf is preferred, but never at the cost of calving ease. Xourel aims to balance birth weight, calving ease direct, calving ease of the daughters and mature cow weight while increasing growth.

Feed Efficiency - Residual Feed Intake (RFI) determines the effectiveness of feed conversion and has a tremendous effect on the economical feeding of animals.

Functionality - Structural soundness, hoof quality, ability to walk, conformity and longevity all play part in the selection for functional cattle for the harsher African conditions.

Carcasses and Beef Quality - Although these traits are secondary selection traits at Xourel, we do select for the traits to ensure that hour higher value markets are satisfied when using Xourel genetics.

Selection for these traits are achieved through various selection methods of which our natural rearing method forms the base. After weaning all animals are subjected to high protein green forage with supplemented energy rations. This allows the breakdown of high protein and roughage and allows for medium growth and natural development. Performance groups are kept as tight as possible, but allowing for RFI and show strings are managed to the best of our abilities. All animals are kept until their last trait observation at 600 days of age. Xourel’s first selection occurs at 600 days of age, when all traits on an animal has been recorded. Phenotypical and genetic selection is done based on trained visual selection, which is assisted by use of breeding values, genetic lines and breeding goals.

Females that made the cut are then subjected to grazing where they can incorporate and adapt to become part of the breeding group. Females only conceive for the first time at 22-26 months of age as Xourel has only one breeding season per year. First time bred heifers are not re-bred and are culled if they do not conceive in the single breeding season. This is done without exception.

Bulls are also subjected to grazing after they made the first cut at a 600-day age. At 20-24 months they are presented for inspection by a certified Senior Limousin inspector. After passing inspection they are subjected to slightly harsher conditions to see which animals can maintain themselves. At 27-30 months animals are subjected to high quality feed and grazing to prepare them for the final inspection and service to the industry. Final inspection is done at 30 months of age. Xourel is vigorous at this selection and about 10-15% of society-approved bulls do not make the Xourel selection. Those that don’t make the cut are culled immediately. This ensures that Xourel delivers some of the best bulls to the industry. Xourel’s final inspection is done by only two people, ensuring consistency and quality.

Herd Sire breeding is done at as young as 14 months of age up to 12-13 years of age. Although breeding them that young is not done on a large scale, it is done to ensure that genetic progress is achieved at a rate that can compete internationally. The mainstream mattings are done at two to four years of age, with some great bulls delivering relevant traits till the tender age of 12 to 15 years. These youngsters are often incorporated into our AI program, ensuring that they breed without hampering their development or overtaxing them at a young age.

Xourel also runs an extensive embryo program. Most embryo transfers (ET) are done by means of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) which allows Xourel to collect embryos without subjecting their breeding females to hormone treatment – ensuring longevity and repeated embryo collection. Conception rates for the ET-Program has been very successful and forms a critical part of running large embryo programs to achieve great genetic progress. Export embryos are done according to protocol.

Genomics is a relatively new method of enhancing breeding values and increasing genetic selection accuracies. Xourel is currently helping work towards generating a reference population to generate genomic-enhanced breeding values. As a result, all Xourel animals are subjected to vigorous recording and genetic sampling.



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