The following article about a Journal of Animal Science paper appeared in the August 2 issue of the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Update e-newsletter.
Feed Intake Study in Beef Cattle Could Lead to More Efficient Breeds
A change is coming to the cattle seedstock industry. Breed associations have long been interested in finding the genetic basis for feed efficiency, with the aim of breeding more efficient animals. But the first step – accurately measuring how much cattle eat across different life stages and diet types – has been a missing piece. A new study from the University of Illinois helps fill the gap.
Grain intake in the feedlot is easy to measure and the industry now has a substantial number of feed intake records. But, getting a handle on forage intake while a cow is grazing is extremely difficult to measure. "We need to get a handle on that to really capture feed efficiency for the entire beef production system,” says Dan Shike, associate professor of beef cattle nutrition in the Department of Animal Sciences at University of Illinois.
Shike and a large team of collaborators from 11 institutions set out to determine if there was a relationship between feed efficiency in forage-fed cattle and in grain-fed cattle. Results showed that measures of dry matter intake and feed intake in heifers are relevant, no matter what they were fed.
The article, “Effects of Timing and Duration of Test Period and Diet Type on Intake and Feed Efficiency of Charolais-sired Cattle,” was published in the Journal of Animal Science. The project was supported by a USDA NIFA grant, and the study’s authors include researchers from the National Program for Genetic Improvement of Feed Efficiency in Beef Cattle, as well as graduate students and staff.
Photo: ASAS Animal Science Image Gallery; Amy Radunz