The Ardo Hereford Cow Herd
New Zealand beef cows live amongst sheep in the hill country. They eat excess grass when times are good, helping to keep the pasture short and high quality for ewes and lambs. When times are tough, ewes and lambs take priority, so cows need to get by on not much. Good hill country cows must be low maintenance, fertile, quiet natured, fit and sound, with the DNA to be able to wean a calf that can be grown into premium beef by 20 months of age, every year from calving first as a 2-year-old.
The Ardo stud Hereford cows live on steep, Hunterville hill-country amongst 5,000 ewes and ewe hoggets. 650 cows and 2-year-old heifers calve annually. Calves are weaned to the Fern Flats properties. Heifers must get in-calf at 15 months, calve unassisted and wean a quality calf before they graduate back to the cow herd in the hills.
The Ardo Hereford stud was established in 1960 and has grown alongside the growth of Morrison Farming. The stud cows have always been a part of an integrated farm business and have had to perform in the paddock and on the balance sheet, against the other enterprises. While stud breeding trends, the show-ring, jargon and spin have influenced Hereford breeding, the Ardo cow herd has always been focused on real farm performance, year after year. Rigorous use of EBVs, AI and now genomics, has enabled immense genetic gain across the full range of traits. This objective farming, breeding and selection has seen the Ardo Hereford cow herd become a powerful genetic resource, producing over 270 breeding bulls per year. Ardo Herefords lead New Zealand for total, balanced EBVs and Indexes and a number of Ardo bulls and heifers lead the world with their performance.
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