A growing number of seedstock producers have begun to include EPDs for feed efficiency on tested bulls, and with feed costs where they are, the information draws considerable interest. Breeders and researchers typically base the calculations on individual measurements of a bull’s daily feed intake and average daily gains. These tests can uncover wide variability between bulls, with some requiring significantly more or less feed for equal gains. But feed per gain doesn’t tell the whole story. An animal with low feed intake and a low rate of gain will not earn profits in the feedyard, regardless of its efficiency. Profitable cattle are those that gain more while eating less than average.
Geneticists have shown that feed efficiency is a heritable trait, but data showing the relationship between feed-efficiency EPDs for bulls and actual feedyard performance of their progeny have been scarce.
Leachman Cattle of Colorado, a seedstock producer and bull-test facility based near Wellington, Colo. has measured individual feed intake and gains on bulls for several years, and recently completed a large progeny-feeding trial with Decatur County Feed Yard, Oberlin, Kan. Leachman sent 450 Angus steers to the feedyard, where they were fed for a 70-day warm-up period, then weighed and sorted into sire groups. After 84 days, the feedyard weighed the calves again and calculated gain, dry matter intake, and feed to gain. Leachman then compared the feedyard results with the sire EPDs for feed efficiency and their accuracy, which were calculated before the progeny data were available.
Using a multiple-sire set of 198 Angus calves without feed efficiency EPDs as a beseline, the data show how progeny of known sires compare. “As you can see, our feed-per-gain EPD’s line up extremely well with the actual feed-to-gain results,” says LCOC manager Lee Leachman. “In fact, this is almost uncanny and probably is beyond what we can actually expect on an ongoing basis.”
The value differences in cost of feed are in the final column. Leachman notes these are based on feeding a 600 lb steer to a 1,250 lb finished weight. The figures assume a current dry matter ration cost of $315 per ton. Between the progeny the most efficient sire, Paradigm, and those the least-efficient sire group in this test, there is a difference of $164 per head.
Leachman notes that his operation is applying the same technology to its Stabilizer, Red Angus, and Charolais populations, and will present the data in more detail at a pre-sale seminar on Friday night, March 25th. Leachman’s spring sale takes place on March 26th, featuring 600 bulls and 100 females that all sell with feed-to-gain EPDs. Visit the Leachman Cattle of Colorado Web site for more information.
Source: Leachman Cattle of Colorado