Unlocking cow genetics to lower feed costs
By unlocking the genetics of cattle, less feed is needed according to US
researchers. Speaking at the University of Missouri Southwest Center's annual
Field Day held on Sept. 12 they said it is known that some animals put on more
weight than others in the same herd.
To confirm this hypothesis, a study has been set up by the University of
Missouri and at Texas A&M. The study started with heifers purchased from the
same herd. The animals have been divided into two groups, one that needs more
feed to get a pound of gain and the other, which needs less. Both groups look
identical but one just needs less food.
Forage agronomist Rob Kallenbach
said breeding those genetics into cattle to make more efficient use of forages
could lower winter feed costs by 10 to 30 percent when combined with good
pasture management. The study is not tied to any particular cattle breed. "There
is as much or more variation between animals within a breed as there is between
breeds," he said. On pastures, feed-efficient animals need 15 to 20 percent less
forage, he said. Kallenbach also warned producers not to focus all of their
attention on any one trait; feed efficiency, for example, has little value if
that cow produces little milk.
University of Missouri
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