Why beef twinners?

This is a question that we are often asked. The simple answer is given in the results of weaner sales over several years. For example, in 2011 we sold our whole drop of steer calves in Hamilton. These were March born calves, a mixture of twins and singles, all at least half twinner blood. They were drafted into two lines for the sale. The heavier calves were all singles, weighed 404 kg and made $848. The lighter pen were nearly all twins and weighed 367 kg and made $784. No calves were left behind. A cow with a good single made $848 for the year, while a cow with twins made $1568. The average price for all Hereford weaner steers at that sale was reported as $756.

Our experience at Cavendish, over seven years now, has been that a cow with twin calves weans between 160 and 170 per cent of the weaning weight of a cow with singles. This has been achieved without reducing the fertility of the cows when they have been rejoined. In fact, here at Cavendish, we have had full blood twinner cows conceiving 50 per cent or more twin pregnancies and half blood females conceiving better than 25% twins. This is slightly better than we would expect based on their breeding values in USA.

Many producers are worried by cows with twins. This is largely due to the fact that in normal herds, twins are rare and unexpected. Cows with twins do need extra supervision at calving and watching during lactation to ensure that they don’t lose excess liveweight. When twins are expected, the extra management required can be arranged.

For more information on why beef twinners see recent newspaper articles on the subject, for statistics on scanning and weaning weights from the Cavendish herd, see Results.

The Australian group of twinner cattle breeders including Leo and Liz Cummins of “Ivanhoe”, Cavendish, Nick and Katherine McBride, “Conmurra Station”, SA, Jason and Elyse Clothier, Naracoorte, SA and John and Brigita Keiller, “Cashmore Park”, Portland, Vic., won a Landcare/Woolworths Sustainable Farming Grant in 2010. The grant was used to collect embryos in Canada from the “OK Ranch” in British Columbia which is the largest and most successful commercial daughter herd of MARC twinners. This has increased the MARC twinner genetics available in Australia.  Cattle with twins have a reduced carbon footprint, and are more productive and more profitable. See  Cummins, L.J., Procedures of the Grasslands Society Of Southern Australia Annual Conference, Will High Fecundity Livestock Reduce our Carbon Footprint? (2011) for information on the outcome of this project.