postweaning gain, feed efficiency, feed intake, genetic selection
Feed is the greatest cost for a beef cattle production enterprise. Data collection to determine feed efficiency of animals is also costly, because both gain and intake records are needed to calculate feed efficiency. Electronic intake monitoring systems such as GrowSafe or Insentec to collect feed intake data are expensive and thus limit the number of animals that can be tested. Scientists have worked to pinpoint optimal test durations for collecting both weight gain and feed intake records to lessen costs.
A 70-day performance test is currently recommended for accurate calculation of efficiency, with growth data as the limiting factor. Research has suggested that a 35-day test is adequate to measure feed intake, but a test period of at least 70 days is suggested to measure gain with sufficient accuracy. The objective of this study was to estimate genetic parameters for growth and intake traits with particular attention to the relationship between on-test average daily gain (ADG) and national cattle evaluation postweaning gain (PWG). If the correlation between these two traits is strong, it could allow for the use of PWG as a proxy for ADG in the genetic evaluation of feed efficiency. This substitution would allow producers to reduce the length of the test required to measure feed intake accurately.
Retallick, K. J.; Bormann, J. M.; Weaber, R. L.; MacNeil, M. D.; Bradford, H. L.; Freetly, Harvey C.; Snelling, W. M.; Thallman, Mark; Moser, D.; and Kuehn, Larry
"Genetic Variance and Covariance Components for Feed Intake, Average Daily Gain, and Postweaning Gain in Growing Beef Cattle,"
Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Reports: