Short Gestation Length

Within every breed of cattle there is a diverse range of genetics.


Geneticists will tell you, that there is a greater range within a breed, than between breeds.


With Gestation Length, to date the recorded range in the Hereford breed is +9.6 days longer to -11.4 days shorter than the breed average.


This 21 day variation (a whole cycle) has the potential to have a massive impact on cattle management and profitability. 


Usually longer gestation length means larger calves at birth and more calving troubles. The reverse of course exists with Short Gestation genetics. Gestation Length, Birth Weight, and Calving Ease tend to be closely correlated.


With a 21 day variation or 10.5 days (allowing half the genetic influence from the male), the Hereford breed could change the average Dairy Cow income, by as much as $ 80 per lactation (10.5 days x 1.8kgms/day x $4.25 /kg payout).


It is therefore obvious, that Short Gestation genetics are financially substantial for the Dairy Industry.


Farmers should demand Hereford Genetics (semen or service bulls) that possess short gestation, to ensure they aren’t using long or unknown gestation length. 


Not only does short gestation help produce more days in milk, it is also a natural answer to reducing inductions.


Shrimpton’s Hill Hereford’s Short Gestation breeding programme was established in 2001, selecting only for this single trait, specifically for the Dairy bull and semen markets. 


Today we are the breeders of the leading Herefords, both male and female in Australasia, for Short Gestation Length.()



Recognising this LIC (Livestock Improvement Corporation), have entered into a breeding relationship with Shrimpton’s Hill Herefords, to supply semen for their domestic and international markets.


Our relationship with LIC has meant our breeding programme has a far greater focus on gestation length, to the benefit of the Dairy Industry and especially now, with the latest induction protocol. 


We can now concentrate on the single trait, Gestation Length, but keeping a close eye on Birth Weight and Calving Ease without losing sight of the special traits our Hereford breed, brings to any market. 


Our partnership with LIC has extended to the trademarking of the abbreviation   (Short Gestation Length), to market ground- breaking genetics to the Dairy industry. This product is   hugely beneficial to all milk harvesters, in naturally counteracting the inducing legislation and providing increased profit, through the extra days in milk!! 


 activity to date at LIC, has delivered in excess of a million extra days in milk and even in the current economic environment  continues to be the strongest growing semen sales category. 


In August 2013 our top cow (Australasian’s best ranked  Hereford Cow) 07-299 (GL -8.6) was sent to Animal Breeding Services in Hamilton to undergo a joint Embryo Transplant programme with LIC.


Embryos from our 07-299 Cow, and by 6 different  Hereford sires, were implanted December 2013. We implanted 37 embryos and remarkably two of these calves arrived on August 21st 2014, a whole month earlier than the average Hereford gestation.


Fortunately for our future-breeding programme, our month early calves were a bull and a heifer by two different sires, E34 and NC32. 

These calves excited LIC’s geneticists, and are playing a pivotal role in the present  Hereford breeding programmes.


The 2016 spring calving (our third using E.T.) will include progeny from these two “30 day early” Herefords plus other combinations of elite donor females and sires


Currently we have 7 sires stationed at LIC’s Newstead bull farm on frozen semen duty, and available in LIC’s Alpha Catalogue. This semen will also be available fresh on farm later in the spring, which is very exciting.


Our  sire SHH 13-21 is now being used in Great Britain, Ireland and Australia and has been used extensively in our own Heifer AB programme. Our other sire, Grand is in use in the USA.


Our three heifers SH14-2, SH15-1 and SH15-2 are presently at Animal Breeding Services supplying embryos to LIC and Shrimpton’s Hill Herefords for the 2016 breeding programmes. 


Since the commencement of our breeding partnership with LIC, we have had some serious movement in genetic gain, with respect to gestation length. We have had several calves born up to a month early and the great majority of our embryo transplant (E.T.) calves arriving at least a cycle early. We are now in a position to be mating E.T. offspring with E.T. offspring, creating a  population at the outer limits of the bell curve.


Because of these results we have created a headache for Breedplan, the performance-breeding programme used by the New Zealand Hereford Association (NZHA), in that the programme isn’t able to correlate our E.T. gestation length (GL) data. Our actual on farm raw data is too extreme for it to process, therefore the E.T. offspring have been assigned mid-parent EBVs, which in no way reflect their true gestation length.


Shrimpton’s Hill Herefords is the largest supplier of beef genetics to the New Zealand meat industry, and acknowleges the relevance of other traits such as growth, meat yield and intra-muscular fat, important in enhancing the maximum potential of all progeny. 


While Shrimpton’s Hill Herefords continues to push the  envelope, we are getting great satisfaction from our breeding results and adding value to our clients’ bottom line.