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
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
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
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