The Murray Grey breed is a relatively recent addition to the beef genetic pool of New Zealand.
The breed had it's good foundation and consolidation more than fifty years ago in the upper Murray River area of Australia and today the breed is found in most of the beef producing countries of the world.
The first Murray Greys came to New Zealand about thirty years ago and had an immediate impact. They were known for their docility and ability to meet the local beef market requirements. After a period of expansion, the breed has consolidated.
Beef, Breeding purebreds and cross breeds
Beef breed, not of massive size - so they do not carve up the pasture every time they put their feet down! The colour varies from silver to dark grey and is very strong i.e. when crossed with another breed, the colour retention is grey. You are strongly recommended, therefore to purchase only from a registered breeder, as the animal that looks like a Murray Grey, might not be pure bred at all! They are naturally polled - i.e. don't have horns. The first cross will also not have horns, very important when working with an animal in a confined area. At weaning, these twin bull calves on the right weighed 623 kg (combined weight) and their mother was 618 kg - and she was a 1st calving heifer!
Today, the modern Murray Grey is bigger than it's predecessors but it still retains all the attributes the breed is renowned for:
- A low birth weight/ calving ease in comparison to other breeds.
- High maternal values, i.e. early maturing, fertility, good milking ability, hence a high weaning ratio.
- Medium mature weight. Therefore lower feed requirements and higher stocking rates.
- Good sire attributes. Murray Grey bulls are well endowed, which means their daughters are able to breed early.
- Cross breeding. The breed is not only renowned in a purebred situation but also in it's ability to cross with all other breeds. This means its genetics are suitable for all markets.
- Adaptability. The breed has the ability to be farmed in a wide range of climatic situations. In New Zealand, from the far north to the deep south. From the high hill country to the plains.
- Conformation. The ability to 'do well' and recover from climatic extremes. Carcass quality. The breed retains its ability to meet the requirements of all premium-grading systems.
- Docility means the correct PH levels. Carcass conformation means premiums from the top grades and high dressing percentage means more dollars from the processing companies.
The Murray Greys are very popular with the restaurant trade as the meat is beautifully marbled and tasty. At the recent Mystery Creek Fieldays, the Murray Grey steak sandwich (cooked and sold in the MG pavilion) was judged "Best Buy" of the Fieldays!
Angus and Murray Grey cattle remain the preferred breeds for many large feedlots in Australia. A number of breeders have found niche markets for their Murray Grey beef and supply restaurants and hotels in the South Island and a New World Supermarket in the North Island (Tokoroa) takes all the Murray Grey beef it can source in an effort to meet the demand.
There is no trouble in selling MG beef in New Zealand as carcases average yield is in the high 70%.
The New Zealand Murray Grey Beef Cattle Society has a current membership of 130, with 2000 registered cows.
Today the majority of Murray Greys are performance recorded which means that Murray Grey breeders are able to define and benchmark in quantitative form, all productive merits of the breed. This is important if the breed is to be part of both the domestic and export beef markets. The International Group Breedplan genetic evaluation allows New Zealand breeders to compare the genetic merit on a world wide basis. Murray Greys are the only breed to be assessed genetically.
With the future now looking more positive and the Murray Grey breed able to meet all the requirements of producers, processors and consumers, it's now time to consider how best Murray Greys can fit into your cattle breeding programme.
Murray Grey website: www.murraygreys.co.nz