#BeefPerformers: National Special Performance Test Class

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) will once again present its National Beef Performers Awards in 2023. This is the 45th instalment of the awards, the aim of which is to showcase the best of the best in seven categories, all relating to beef cattle performance and beef cattle producers. Each of the seven categories is sponsored by various agricultural companies and role-players, and serve to honour those who have excelled in their breeding and production practices, as well as the mentoring of fellow producers.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) has been a key stakeholder in these awards since its inception and continues to play this role this year. As of 2022, Plaas Media is the main sponsor of the awards and, as last year, will also be sponsoring certain categories.

National Special Performance Test Class Awards

The National Special Performance Test Class Award, sponsored by Plaas Media/Stockfarm Magazine, has been presented for over 40 years and rewards only bulls with exceptional performance traits. Bulls which were awarded gold or silver merit certificates when they completed a standardised growth test (Phase C) of the National Beef Recording and Improvement Scheme during the year that precedes the awards event, are eligible to compete in this category.

Standardised growth test stations are situated in five provinces and simulates a feedlot scenario. However, individual feed intake, growth and feed conversion are measured. The amount of feed consumed is the biggest cost driver and ability to grow is the profit driver of a feedlot enterprise. More than 70% of beef cattle in South Africa is rounded off in feedlots, which is the primary market for commercial weaner calf producers. Additional traits measured in a centralised testing centre are scrotum circumference, which is an indication of bull fertility, and body measurements such as body length and shoulder height.

Residual feed intake (RFI), a trait that describes a bull’s ability to utilise feed efficiently, is also considered. Essentially, it describes the animal’s biological efficiency and its ability to convert feed into meat. This feed efficiency is important in the beef herd, as up to 65% of the feed on the farm is used to meet mature cow maintenance requirements.

Feed efficiency is thus directly associated with financial gain or profitability and due to its economic importance, it became more relevant as selection criteria to select for more efficient animals.

Only one bull per breed eventually is identified as representative of the entire breed in terms of performance and functional efficiency. Bulls are not adjudicated across breeds as during previous years (interbreed adjudication), meaning that every bull is crowned as the overall national winner within the participating breed. The 2023 finalists in this category are:

BeefmasterAllan VersveldVolksrust, Mpumalanga
BoranGideon BothaLuckhoff, Free State
BrafordGert van der Merwe and Johan de JagerBethal, Mpumalanga
BrahmanCarel ChalmersMokopane, Limpopo
BrangusFerdie NaudéWelkom, Free State
BraunviehErik de KlerkBoshof, Western Free State
CharolaisRuan ErasmusStella, North West
HerefordDanie van BredaHermon, Western Cape
LimousinJohan FourieModimolle, Limpopo
NguniHannes EksteenPiketberg, Western Cape
RomagnolaFerdi van NiekerkParys, Free State
Santa GertrudisGert BritsDelareyville, North West
SimbraLourens MullerLindley, Free State
SussexCB CilliéBloemfontein, Free State

To watch the awards, tune in to the Farm TV YouTube channel on 23 November. – Dr Ben Greyling and Frans Jordaan

Click on the links below to read more about the ARC Beef Performers Awards:

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