This week Mark chats with Dr Leo Cummins of Byaduk North, Aus.
With the world favouring environmental efficiency, why is it that we don't breed cattle to have twins? Mark and Leo go through the ins and outs of Beef Twinners, a composite from Nebraska that Leo has been working with for the past 17 years.
During Leos research career, he investigated high fecundity beef and sheep livestock systems including Booroola sheep. During this time he became aware of a twinning herd in Nebraska ran by the Meat Animal Research Center (MARC), which had a 50% twinning rate in cows. The first imported embryos were implanted into cows in 2004, and the progeny are now producing twin calves at a rate of about 50 per cent.
Beef twinners are a composite line of cattle developed at the U.S. MARC. This project started in 1981 by selecting cattle based on their ability to produce twins. This was based on selection on both twinning history and recorded ovulation rates over several cycles in heifers. Bulls were selected which had high predicted breeding values for twinning, based on their daughters having twins and high ovulation rates.
Have a listen to hear how these cattle are being run in Australia and the improvements Leo is making to the herd. He has some impressive figures of weaning weights and sale prices that makes you wonder why we aim for only one calf, considering the environmental outlook of the world currently.
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