Submitted to: Range Beef Cow Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: November 7, 2005
Publication Date: November 21, 2005
Citation: Allan, M.F. 2005. Improving feed efficiency through genetics. The Range Beef Cow Symposium XIX:57-61. Technical Abstract: Feed efficiency is not a new topic to the beef industry. Historically this topic has been revisited by the industry every 10 to 15 years with little benefit to the producer. The lack of progress in understanding the genetics of feed efficiency stems from the difficulty in trying to accurately measure individual intakes, coupled with extreme costs and a long generation interval. Feed efficiency is difficult to define and needs to be evaluated in the producing female, as well the growing/finishing animal. Heritability of feed efficiency has been estimated to be moderate, with values ranging from .28-.44. Genetic selection will work as a tool to improve feed efficiency. The main benefit of understanding the genetics of feed efficiency and developing tools to improve efficiency is reduced production costs. With 70-80% of the total variable costs in beef production being feed costs, the slightest improvement in feed efficiency will have a significant impact in profitability in multiple areas of beef production. Technology has developed to a point that we can better measure, record, analyze and implement selection for energy efficiency. The feed efficiency projects at MARC will map quantitative trait loci in the producing female at two life stages (growing and mature) and during the finishing phase in steers. From these quantitative trait loci, markers will be developed for industry application of marker-assisted selection to improve energy efficiency in beef cattle.