Beef breed launches first ever feed efficiency breeding value

Producers using Stabiliser genetics could see savings of up to £100 per cow/calf unit through harnessing the benefits of a new net feed efficiency (NFE) estimated breeding value (EBV).

By ranking bulls on their NFE credentials, producers can identify the top third of animals on an NFE basis. These are 13% more efficient with feed than those in the bottom third.  

This means that, for a given level or performance, cattle rated highly for NFE will eat less feed than those with a low NFE EBV.

See also: Stabilisers feed efficiency value could save £100 an animal

Building data

The five-year project, managed by the Beef Improvement Group (BIG) and supported by JSR Farm, Alltech/Keenan and SAC Consulting, analysed feedlot performance of over 1,000 Stabiliser bulls at an East Yorkshire monitoring unit.  

NFE Savings

  • Top third of bulls are 13% more efficient in NFFE terms
  • This means the top third eat 1.8kg DM/day less for the same weight gain
  • Savings of £21 a head over a 12-week trial period are possible
  • This could save up to £100 per cow/calf unit
  • 60-70% of suckler costs are in maintenance feed requirements

Data will continue to be collected from 240 cattle each year, updating figures to increase accuracy of the EBVs and looking at which major families can be used to increase the NFE of the breed.

Heritability of the NFE as a genetic trait is “good” at 37%. The top lines for NFE are from the now deceased Givendale Louie (NFE -0.9), according to BIG breed development manager Duncan Pullar.

Mr Pullar added that the current range is broadly between -1 and +1, with negative figures being more efficient.

“We have over 1,000 animals measured but if we know the pedigree of animals, we can impute a figure through the animals relations,” he told Farmers Weekly. “This basically sees us estimate NFE for animals that aren’t measured.”

Meeting maintenance requirements

With NFE relevant to maintenance requirements in both fattening cattle and breeding stock, the EBV has potential to cut feeding costs in the future, said SRUC beef specialist Dr Jimmy Hyslop, who designed the project and analysed the statistics.

He added: “This detailed measurement of both feed intake and animal performance has resulted in a high calibre data-set from which a robust NFE EBV has been derived across the entire Stabiliser population.

“The existing and future data that continues to be accumulated in the years ahead for this very important trait means that Stabiliser genetics will offer the beef industry significant opportunities to reduce feed costs and therefore improve the sustainability and profitability in the challenging times ahead.”

Givendale Lorenzo

Givendale Lorenzo

Givendale Lorenzo

The latest figures for Givendale Lorenzo (pictured above) are shown below. 

EBVs for Givendale Lorenzo