News last update:6 Aug 2012

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.

Related websites:
University of Missouri 
Texas A&M University

[Original Source]

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