Hereford leaders, breeders take cattle efficiency to the next level

US - Some things in life are just plain true - hard to test, document or prove with scientific evidence, but generally understood via experience. In the cattle business, one such truth is that Herefords and Hereford-crosses are efficient converters of grass and grain.
calendar icon 6 March 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
Generations of cattlemen have told it true. Still, we've come to an age where a man's word often just isn't enough. Data is demanded.

Answering this call, the Hereford breed is seeking data to confirm what has been noted for years by the man on the range, and more recently, the man in the feedlot. Herefords are efficient critters, and efficiency directly affects profit.

Securing feed efficiency data is no small task. In decades past, related trials have been few and far between due to the difficulty and expense of measuring individual inputs. Even the most renowned re-searchers in the livestock industry have struggled with what is the correct way to measure such a critical trait.

Animal scientists estimate feed costs account for more than 50 percent of total production expense, with some allocating as much as 70 percent. These figures can't be ignored. A more efficient animal means dollars saved.

So, what the industry has started to see is the development of a variety of methods and formulas designed to identify the degree of feed efficiency in a particular animal or pen of animals. Although experts don't claim these methods and formulas to be perfect, they have created a foundation for beginning to identify and select for the feed efficiency trait. The following provides a look at how Herefords have measured up so far, how the breed is pursuing genetic progress and what the industry has to look forward to in terms of ongoing efficiency research.

Herefords were the leading British breed for net feed intake (NFI) in a trial completed in July 2005 as part of the Co-operative Research Centre for Cattle and Beef Quality trials in Australia. NFI is the amount of feed an animal eats, more or less than, what's expected for its weight and gain. The trial cattle were fed at the Tullimba Research Feedlot, near Armidale, New South Wales.

Source: The Prairie Star
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