Length & width – An elite breeding attribute

Length & width – An elite breeding attribute

Length and width or long and thick, whichever way you like describe it, determines an animal’s weight and, in turn, profitability. Length and width is one of Rockley’s highly valued 7 elite breeding attributes.

We measure length and width when cattle are young using our elite weaning grading system, and then later in life with results from ultrasound scanning and/or abattoir carcass data. Our aim is to produce moderate framed animals that possess length and width, are easy fleshing, low maintenance and have the capacity to maintain good body condition (do-ability). Scanning data of sale bulls are submitted to Breedplan.

Our elite weaning grading system plays an integral role in enabling us to breed cattle with extra length and width. Four key visual assessments are scored and evaluated to achieve this goal:

Muscle
This is the most valuable part of the carcass that also plays a part in getting width in cattle. Not to be confused with fat, muscle is the degree of thickness or convexity of an animal relative to its frame size, after adjustments have been made for subcutaneous fat. Muscle adds width across the back and loin.

Back end
We look for well-rounded rear ends and a smooth tail setting. The rump should be long and moderately sloping to the tailhead. Plenty of meat is available here so we look for width in the pin bones and thickness through the stifle area and twist, along with thickness and roundness of the hindquarter.

Topline
This is the spinal column from the neck to the tailhead of the animal. We look for width over the animal’s spine, which indicates muscling. We strive for ‘butterfly’ muscled toplines in our male cattle. The topline should be straight.

Length
We visually assess the overall length of the animal’s body from withers to pins, based on comparative length to size. The longer the better to add weight to the carcass.

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For more information, please call me (Ashley) on 0408 780 810.

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