A new episode is now available on www.BeefResearchSchool.com.
Efficient feed conversion has always been a priority to cattle feeders, and is increasingly on the minds of cow-calf producers as record high feed costs and conversion of grassland to crop acres substantially increase winter feeding costs. Feed efficiency is heritable, so by selecting feed efficient sires and dams, feeder offspring will consume less feed to reach a finished weight, and seedstock offspring should require less feed to maintain a healthy body weight. In addition to lower feed requirements, improved feed efficiency will also have environmental benefits through reduced manure and greenhouse gas production.
Residual feed intake (RFI) is a tool to identify feed efficient seedstock. RFI is the difference between actual and expected feed consumption for an animal’s given growth rate. An animal that consumes less feed than expected will have a negative RFI value, which indicates better-than-average feed efficiency.
This episode of the Beef Research School features Dr. John Basarab, a researcher with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development focused on improving feed efficiency, genetic markers development for economically important traits, and greenhouse gas mitigation in beef cattle. Also featured is a University of Manitoba masters student involved with an RFI study that suggests using a forage or grain based diet is an important factor when testing RFI in bulls intended for seedstock versus feeder offspring.
The following locations provide custom RFI bull testing. Contact them for more information:
- Cattleland Feedyards – Strathmore, Alberta
- Lakeland College Bull Test Station – Vermillion, Alberta
- Olds College – Olds, Alberta
- Maritime Beef Test Station – Nappan, Nova Scotia
Stay tuned for more episodes of the Beef Research School, which will soon cover topics like lameness, manure management, and the latest beef quality audit. Past episodes discussed extended grazing systems, managing winter nutrition, and feed testing. For more information on the Beef Research School, visit www.beefresearch.ca/blog/new-video-series/
Learn more about RFI
Residual Feed Intake (Net Feed Efficiency) in Beef Cattle
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
Residual feed intake trait has value for cow-calf producers
Residual Feed Intake as a Selection Tool
Utah State University
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