Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



From: 2016 Beef Improvement Federation Annual Meeting & Symposium, June 14 - 17, 2016, Hilton Garden Inn, Manhattan, Kansas.


Individual animal feed efficiency plays a key role in the profitability and sustainability of the US beef industry. During the growing and finishing phase of production, a 10% improvement in feed efficiency has a two-fold greater impact on profit than a 10% increase in rate of gain (Fox et al., 2001). The traits that beef producers routinely record are outputs which determine the value of product sold and not the inputs defining the cost of beef production. The inability to routinely measure feed intake and feed efficiency on large numbers of cattle has precluded the efficient application of selection despite moderate heritabilities (h2 = 0.16-0.46; Archer et al., 1999). Feed costs in calf feeding and yearling finishing systems account for approximately 66% and 77% of costs, respectively (Anderson et al., 2005).Feed costs account for approximately 65% of total beef production costs. Of the metabolizable energy required from conception to consumption of a beef animal, 72% is utilized during the cow-calf segment of production while 28% of calories are utilized in the calf growing and finishing phases of production (Ferrell and Jenkins, 1982). Of the calories consumed in the cow-calf segment, more than half are used for maintenance which presents a large selection target.