Submitted to: Grass and Forage Science
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/15/2015
Publication Date: 6/14/2016
Citation: Robins, J.G., Bushman, B.S., Jensen, K.B. 2016. Current status of feed quality breeding and testing in North America. Grass and Forage Science.
Technical Abstract: Feed quality is the potential of feed to produce a desired animal response (Ball et al. 2001). While this definition is straightforward, attempts to improve feed quality through breeding and selection are not always straightforward. Feed quality breeding obectives must be balanced with other breeding objectives, such as forage mass, pest resistance, and abiotic stress tolerance, among others. Additionally, it can be difficult to determine which specific components of feed quality are most important for the intended use of the end feed. Complications to breeding objectives include negative phenotypic and/or genotypic correlations among agronomic and feed quality traits, complicated inheritance patterns in polyploidy organisms, expense of processing samples for laboratory analyses, development of appropriate equations for estimation with near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS), extended time period required to complete feed quality analyses, and changing feed quality expectations from animal producers. A successful feed quality breeding program incorporates the genetic potential of the feed quality of the targeted forage species, the feed quality needs of the targeted animal production system, the regional climate, and the relative importance of various forage quality measures, such as the importance of high protein compared to cell wall components.