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Beef Business & Breeding

Our vision for Greenup Pty Ltd extends beyond breeding bulls.  We see our business as a platform to help rural businesses and communities prosper.  The greenup.com.au website provides free advice and information and gives outlines of our field days which are intended to help beef producers get the most out of their business.

Click on the titles below to go straight to the article.


Cash Cow Shed Light on Breeder Management

Assessing Body Condition Score

Reproductive wastage, Fordyce et al

Beef reproductive efficiency, McGowan et al

Live weight production extensive cattle, Fordyce et al

Genetics - driving the industry forward

Show me the money! Genetics and the bottom line.

New standards benefit bull buyers

Bull testing is for everyone

DNA testing proving its worth

Buying better bulls 

Low pregnancy rates - diagnosing the problem

EMA as an indicator of muscling 

Organic certification and conversion to organic status 

Line breeding – when is it too close?

Breed your own bulls

Field days:

Heatley Backs Beef: 2009 Open Day

Beef Business & Breeding Field Day: Revive Your Drive: 2008 Field Day

Moving Forward: Field day 2007

Climate Change & Cost of Capital: Dealing with New Realities: Field day 2006

Roma Youth Forum: 2005

Beef breeding & business field day: 2005

Breeding  technology update: 2004

Bull technology update: 2003

Roma Youth Forum

The Roma Youth Forum was attended by 80 young beef producers from around the state.  The comprehensive 2-day event covered topics such as key drivers of profitability, marketing, finance, off-farm investments, succession and depression.

Rick and Alice shared their experiences of business management and succession.  Our paper is attached below. 

Seeking Same

Despondent rural male/female seeks lifetime of hard work, poor pay, drought, instability and demoralizing family interaction. Long-term career prospects uncertain.


Position Vacant

New age industry seeks a young, energetic leader to perform at the industry cutting edge. The applicant will be working in areas of reform in computer technology, vegetation management, animal welfare, and environmental stewardship. Must have skills in public relations, marketing, finance, banking, share trading, commercial and residential investments, human resources, and change management. Applicant is required to have passion, a clear vision and an appetite for learning. Must be able to work independently and in teams. He/She must be willing to take risks and back own judgment. Incentive based remuneration.

The choice is yours………

It’s all about perspective. We create the future and world we want. And we get to choose how we deal with our situation and life’s curve balls. This is a two-part process.

  1. Decide what you intend to create.
  2. Develop and use tools to achieve your vision and goals.


Decide what you intend to create

Discover your passions and follow your heart. Remember to create abundance in all areas of life. Enjoy and create supreme health, happiness, and finances and do the same for the animals, community, staff and environment within your field of control.

Profit at the cost of your health, animal welfare, exploiting people and our natural resources, is NOT financial success. Real satisfaction and success comes from building a business that enriches your life and the lives of your staff, animals, community and improves the ecosystem.

Goal setting is a powerful tool to help you achieve your vision. For goal setting to be effective, write them down. It’s easy and effective, just do it!

Develop and use tools to achieve your vision and goals.

This forum is about the tools you need to develop and use to achieve your vision and goals. If you only have a hammer then you try to make everything a nail, but if you have a full toolbox, then you can approach challenges from a number of angles.

Immerse yourself with people and in training and books that will expand these concepts. Education is constant and continuous.

The toolbox:

  1. Lateral thinking: Partnerships; joint ventures; location; finance options; leasing cattle; corporate structures; alternative land uses; diversification; business opportunities…….

  2. Be prepared to try alternative paths while focusing in the right direction. Be flexible and think away from the mainstream, because this is where you will find opportunities. When everyone is looking North… go South, when everyone is buying land…. buy cattle, when everyone is buying houses…. buy shares, when everyone is buying cattle…. lease land, when everyone is building feedlots…. sell store cattle, when everyone is saying there is no future in the industry….. that’s EXACTLY when you should be most excited about you future in the industry.

  3. Off-farm investments: compounding; cycles; timing; commercial real estate; residential real estate; shares; bonds; passive incomes; negative gearing; positive gearing; using on-farm equity…
  4. You need to be prepared to look beyond agriculture to build an off-farm portfolio which you can draw on for tough times, to further your expansion into agriculture, as a succession buffer, or for your retirement. Buy the investments now and the Prado comes later. Harness the power of compounding. Start today.

    Do not despise the bottom rungs on your ascent to greatnesss.

  5. On-farm management; benchmarking; business systems; finance; costs of production; key drivers; staff; enterprise mix; development; expansion; land assets; cattle assets; timber assets; genetics; grazing management; holidays; training……

Greenup Santa Gertrudis was founded in 1999 by Rick & Alice Greenup. A strong vision, an ability to value their mistakes as well as their achievements, continuous benchmarking and training underpins their business success. This is their story.

Rick is from a third generation Santa Gertrudis, stud and commercial operation on the Darling Downs. Seven years ago the family worked through its succession and Rick & Alice established Greenup Pty Ltd. They purchased ‘Jumma,’ a 16,000 acre block in 2000, using vendor finance to purchase 700 head of Santa Breeders and loans from NAB, QRAA and family – starting out with only 30% equity. Off-farm assets are a critical part of their business. They live on ‘Cardowan’, a 26,000-acre aggregate, 45 km south-west of Kingaroy managing their own Santa stud and commercial cattle business, Greenup Santa Gertrudis. They have a 1-year-old daughter, Ruby.

Rick and Alice work with consultants and other cattle businesses across Queensland, to benchmark their profitability and to have outside input into their business, which helps them to achieve their goals.

Rick is on the Santa Gertrudis Breed Development Committee and active in local community events and committees. Alice is a former DPI Beef Officer and is presently a Director of Beef Australia, which hosts the triennial Beef Expo in Rockhampton.

Close to their heart is helping other people thrive in the rural industry.

Beef breeding & business field day: 2005

How do genetics affect your business bottom line?   


What drives our profitability? Nutritional management, Marketing, Finance, Training, Fertility management, Pasture management …..


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Alice shares the 3 secrets of profit Russell Gray & Roger Boshammer Sale bulls being inspected Russell reviews the bulls structure and faults


Beef producers enjoyed an uncharacteristically warm winter's day to attend the 2005 annual field day. 

    On display were:

    The 2005 sale teams;

    The Greenup Stud Cows: See the hard working girls in their tough, home environment;

    A selection of yearling Heifers: Pick their faults and features as we run a real-life classifying scenario;

    Greenup Stud Sires: The men behind the men - in their work clothes;

    And sessions on finance and business and how this links with your breeding program.


It was a first ever event as our whole business was on display for scrutiny.  The Greenup mating program, herd nutrition and grazing management and how this affects our bottom line was discussed.  We openly showed our costs of production and net price received (c/kg).  The presentation continued with an over-view of the factors that affect and drive profitability and how cattle selection links with overheads, gross margins and turnover.


Alan Kohler, ANZ Senior Markets Consultant gave a down to earth, practical presentation on the current status of the interest rate cycle, what producers should consider to manage interest rate risk, how to manage exposure to financial markets and what is in store for interest rates & exchange rates?


In response to the 2004 feedback we had more practical sessions assessing cattle, as Russell Gray, Santa Gertrudis Breed Classifier assessed our bulls & heifers and led a hearty discussion about constitution, structure, fertility and carcase traits.


If you would like an invitation to future field days, please contact us with your mailing details.


Breeding technology update: 2004

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Slow roasted blade with gravy was a hit Rick & Graem Hopf discuss the structure of a 12-year old PTIC cow. Standing room only in the hay shed.  

There was standing room only at the recent Breeding Technology Field Day, as 170 beef producers packed into the hay shed to hear industry experts discuss breeding programs and the latest research in genetics and breeding.

The event was hosted by Rick & Alice Greenup, Greenup Santa Gertrudis Stud, Kumbia and the program was designed in response to feedback from their Bull Technology Field Day held last year, which indicated beef producers wanted more training on female selection and breeding programs.

Mr Greenup said the response before and after the event was fantastic, demonstrating that there is still a huge demand for these sorts of training opportunities.

"People came from as far as Gympie, Moura and Ballina for the day. Producers are craving to hear experts give practical advice about breeding cattle. There is so much information out there, it is getting really hard to sift out what is relevant to each person’s business and not get carried away with new technology, just because it is new," Mr Greenup said.

"Genetics is like throwing darts at a dartboard - you need to know where the bullseye is that you are aiming for. But if you make the target too big, you will hit it somewhere, but it won’t get you very far genetically, or you could even go backwards."

Deputy CEO of the CRC for Cattle & Beef Quality, Dr Heather Burrow spoke on beef tenderness, genetic markers and the antagonistic relationships between certain market traits and cattle function traits such as fertility.

"There was a lot of interest in selecting for market specifications and what trade-offs need to be considered in terms of feed efficiency, fertility and environmental adaptation," Ms Burrow said

"For example there is an favourable relationship between yield and feed efficiency (FE), however there is an antagonistic relationship between those traits and fertility, marbling and fat coverage. So if producers are not chasing marbling they can pursue other carcase traits and FE, but they need to balance this with their other breeding objectives to make sure they retain fertility and function."

"The producers are starting to question how much tropical adaptation they need in their specific situation and they are setting breeding objectives for a given area, rather than assuming we all have the same environmental constraints," Ms Burrow said.

DPI Senior Extension Officer John Bertram and Christian Duff from Tropical Beef Technology Services then guided the producers through a series of practical activities to define breeding objectives, specific to each producer’s business and markets.

Mr Bertram gave an overview of the traits that should be the highest priority in all breeding programs such as structural soundness and fertility, recommending that as producers define their breeding objectives that they avoid single trait selection and focus on traits that are most important to their business.

Mr Duff said the producers revealed which traits impacted on their on-farm production and market specifications and what they look for when selecting cattle.

"The more things we try to select for, the less genetic progress we will make. So it is critical to work out what is relevant to each business to ensure it is maximising its potential for profitability and to avoid fads and stick to a long-term plan, that achieves continuous genetic progress," Mr Duff said.

Graeme Hopf, an industry expert in cattle function, challenged the group’s assumptions about what underpins a cow’s milking ability, soundness, longevity & fertility and how this should be applied in a breeding program.

Mr Hopf described an ideal beef cow as one that gets in calf early, calves easily and gives ample milk to rear a good calf.

"Beef producers should breed cows for the country and use bulls for the market. Breeders on light, forest country have different pressures to a herd that is grown on fertile, fattening country, so the cows should be selected for function and managed to match the country, and the bulls used should provide the market traits such as growth and maturity pattern," Mr Hopf said.

"The selection of beef cattle in recent years has resulted in some very large heavy animals and this has placed greater stress on the bones and joints of these animals, this makes selection for proper structure even more critical."

The day’s take home message was for breeders to take a balanced and planned approach to their breeding program, which should be tailored to individual environments and customer requirements, while producing a profitable end product.

Rick Greenup’s Breeding Objectives

Easy-care cattle that wean a calf every twelve months, and maintain condition in harsh environments, without supplements.
Adequate frame size, heavy weight for age, moderate maturity pattern and the ability to lay down fat to fit both Jap Ox and domestic markets.
Tropical adaptability and longevity, through structural soundness and function.
Cool temperament.


Bull technology update: 2003

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John Bertram & Peter McAuliffe Mick Tierney, Richard Greenup & John Bertram Gary & Sharon Barbour, Don Allen, Kathy & Wayne McLelland Attentive crowd

Over fifty commercial and stud producers attended the Bull Technology Update, organized by Rick & Alice Greenup. Topics discussed included the latest research and developments in the areas of bull fertility, the National Cattle Veterinary Standards, Breedplan, meat quality, bull assessment and selection.

Speakers on the day were John Bertram, Department of Primary Industries, Mick Tierney, Animal Genetics consultant (former DPI Senior Geneticist) and Peter McAuliffe, Livestock Breeding Services.

John Bertram discussed:

Bull selection and use in northern Australia
The National Cattle Veterinary Standards
Selection for temperament
Net feed Intake (NFI) – feed efficiency
PrimeGROTM IGF and its role in beef cattle

Mick Tierney provided an overview of Breedplan, the system, its principals and ability to compare animals between years and feeding regimes. Peter McAuliffe discussed the practical aspects of semen evaluation and the latest findings from the 2002 National Bull Fertility Conference. A summary of the day is provided below.

Bull selection and use in northern Australia

‘Bull selection and use in northern Australia’ was a statewide project supported by the QDPI, University of Queensland, James Cook University, CSIRO, NT Dept. of Primary Industries and Fisheries and the Santa Gertrudis Breeders’ (Australia) Association.

Key findings from this project were:

  1. A breeding soundness examination should form the basis of an annual pre-breeding assessment.
  2. No single physical or reproductive trait was consistently related to calf output in multiple-sire herds. Therefore bulls should be selected for a balance of traits ensuring that the bulls meet a minimum standard for each trait.
  3. Semen examination, which includes the assessment of sperm morphology, should be used regularly in bull selection and pre-mating assessments. Bulls should have at least 50% (for new purchases - preferably 70%) normal sperm and that a recommendation on fertility should not be based on semen or sperm motility alone (crush-side examination).
  4. Profiles of heparin-binding proteins are unlikely to help with the assessment of bull fertility.
  5. In a serving capacity test Bos indicus (tropical) bulls express different sexual behaviour to Bos taurus (British) bulls, particularly the number of serves. As an assessment tool the serving capacity test is important to identify whether a bull is capable of serving, rather than as a tool to predict calf output in multiple-sire herds.
  6. Social dominance behaviour has a significant impact on calf output in multiple-sire herds. Bulls that expressed more territorial behaviour tended to sire more calves.
  7. Multiple-sire mating Bos indicus bulls which are reproductively and physically sound at a rate of 2.5% (1 bull to 40 cycling females) will not jeopardise herd fertility in most extensive grazing systems.

The National Cattle Veterinary Standards

A bull breeding soundness evaluation (BBSE) is not a guarantee of a bull’s performance but it is an indication of whether a bull meets baseline standards at that point in time.

The new standards offers a consistent national reporting system that provides assurance that bulls have a high probability of being fertile at the time of testing. The five aspects of bull fertility are listed on a standardised bull report and they cover scrotal size, physical structural soundness, semen, morphology and serving ability. Semen morphology assessment will only be considered valid if provided by an AACV accredited laboratory

For further information contact the Australian Association of Cattle Veterinarians on (07) 3378 7944 or email aacv@ava.com.au

Bull fertility

The following notes are from Peter Chenoweth’s paper presented at the 2002 National Bull Fertility Conference held in Darwin.

The Bull Breeding Soundness Examination (BBSE) does not predict fertility, however it establishes thresholds and is useful in identifying the bulls with poor potential fertility. The examination will not identify bulls with superior potential fertility.
Some of the thresholds are scrotal circumference - 34 cm at 24 months; sperm morphology – 70 % normal; sperm motility – at least 30% with good motility.
The BBSE should be a pivotal part of management to improve herd fertility, genetics and profitability.
A typical BBSE costs approximately $1-2 per breeding female
Bulls passing the BBSE get females pregnant earlier than unselected bulls.
Every 21 days that a cow is ‘open’ represents 10-20 kg loss of calf weight at weaning.
Using bulls that have passed a BBSE means that fewer bulls are needed, thereby saving money, which can be re-invested into superior genetics.
USA data has shown that consistent use of BBSE improved returns $3-$50 per breeding cow.

Selection for temperament

Temperament is proving to be a significant trait for commercial reasons as well as a farm safety issue. Temperament or docility can be measured three ways ie Flight time, Crush score and as a Yard test. Each measurement method is correlated with each other with about medium heritability. A temperament score measured using flight-time has a heritability of 32%. This means that 32% of the variation in temperament can be attributed to genetic differences.

Temperament is most effectively measured by a flight-time test. Flight-time has been genetically correlated to tenderness and eating quality. Feedlot performance is affected by temperament, as animals with good temperament (slow flight times) grew faster to higher final weights, had heavier carcases and had better feed conversion ratios. Flight times are affected by previous handling. However, within the same management practice, flight time can separate the differences in docility between animals of the same group.

Net feed intake (NFI)

Net feed intake relates the live weight gain of an animal to the amount of feed eaten. Current research has demonstrated that there is wide variation between animals for feed efficiency, which provides tremendous opportunity for genetic selection. There are significant gains to be made in the beef industry, through identifying animals that are more efficient feed converters.

The problem for the beef industry in the past has been a simple and efficient way to measure the NFI thereby establishing these differences. Previously this has been achieved using feeding pens in which individual feed bins and animal recorders have been installed to identify an individual animal as it enters the pen to record the amount of feed eaten. After the feeding period of about 30 days the live weight gain is reckoned against the feed consumed on an individual animal basis.

The recent CRC for Beef Quality results show that the hormone blood test for Insulin Like Growth Factor -1 (IGF-1) is effective when used in cattle to identify the differences between animals for feed efficiency when all animals being tested are on a similar diet. Whilst this test will be altered by environmental effects eg temperature and the protein quality of the feed, the genetic differences can be calculated similar to any other estimated breeding value. A lower IGF-1 value is desirable. Evidence at this point in time is that the more efficient animals have the higher growth rates and have more muscle than fat.

PrimeGROTM IGF-1 and its role in beef cattle

Selection for lower IGF-1 should improve growth, reduce fatness and improved feed conversion efficiency.

IGF-1 is currently being selected for in the pig industry, with the aim of reducing IGF-1 levels to improve growth and the percent of lean meat and feed conversion ratios. IGF-1 in beef cattle is moderately heritable and is showing useful genetic correlations to P8 (rump) fat measurements, intramuscular fat (marbling), feed conversion ratios and need feed intake.

The test can be conducted using a drop of blood placed on the prescribed sample card. At present this test costs between $15 and $30.00 depending on throughput. The test is currently marketed and conducted by PrimeGRO Limited. The real value in the result is in the genetic analysis that follows as it relates to sire selection.


Breedplan predicts breeding values for animals, using all the information on an animal and its known relatives. The main concern that people have with Breedplan is how it can compare between herds and different years.

The following example explains how Breedplan adjusts for differences between herds run in two different environments. The average weaning weight of calves sired by bulls A, B & C are shown:

Softwood scrub


Forest ironbark

Bull A – 225 kg

Bull B – 250 kg


Bull B – 150 kg

Bull C – 180 kg

Bull B is common, Av wt = 200Kg



Environmental adjustment

-50kg due to better feed


Environmental adjustment

+50kg due to poor feed quality

Without Breedplan to adjust for differences in herds, nutrition and management the bulls would be ranked according to the average weight of their calves.

  1. Bull A - 225 kg
  2. Bull B – 200 kg (250+150 / divided by 2)
  3. Bull C – 180 kg

However with Bull B acting as a "link sire" the herd averages can be adjusted to allow for environmental differences and the ranking becomes:

  1. Bull C - 230 kg ( ie 180 + 50 adjustment)
  2. Bull B - 200 kg
  3. Bull A – 175 kg (ie 225 – 50 kg adjustment)

Recent research is showing that animals that are ranked on EBVs for growth in one environment eg temperate pastures in Southern Australia, will rank similarly given very different nutrition eg tropical pastures in Northern Australia and also pastures versus feedlot.

Breedplan currently determines breeding values for growth traits, fertility traits and carcase traits. EBVs (estimated breeding values) are expressed as a positive or negative difference from a breed base and they are reported in actual measurement units, for example kg for growth and cm for scrotal size.

Keeping it all in perspective

While tests for temperament, marbling, IGF-1, net feed intakes etc are very exciting, the issue remains that producers are still not getting paid for many of these traits and they do add to the costs of production.

While it is important to remain in touch with new technology, a breeding program that underpins a profitable business needs to stick with the fundamentals: selecting bulls and cows for fertility and adaptation to the environment in which they are grazed, structural soundness and current market needs / specifications.

Contact Rick and Alice Greenup is you would like to be invited to future technology updates. This article and other technical articles are available at greenup.com.au.



Contact information

You are always welcome at Cardowan to view the upcoming sale bulls and our breeding cows.  Contact Rick & Alice Greenup to discuss your herd's needs on;

617-4164 4260


617-4164 4419

Postal address

"Cardowan" MS 514 KUMBIA QLD 4610. Australia

Electronic mail