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Hereford and Red Angus Heifers Recruited for Genomics Research

The University of Missouri is recruiting 2,500 Hereford heifers and 2,500 Red Angus heifers to participate in a heifer puberty and fertility genomic research project. Heifers should be registered Hereford, registered Red Angus, or commercial Hereford or Red Angus. Hereford x Red Angus crossbred heifers targeted for the Premium Red Baldy Program would also be a good fit for the research project. Producers must be willing to work with a trained veterinarian to collect the following data: ReproductiveTract Scores collected at a pre-breeding exam 30 to 45 days prior to the start of the breeding season. PelvicMeasurements (height and width) collected at the same pre-breeding exam 30 to 45 days prior to the start of the breeding season. Pregnancy Determination Using Ultrasound reporting fetal age in days. Ultrasound will need to occur no later than 90 days after the start of the breeding season. In addition, heifers must have known birth dates and have weights recorded eithe

Heifer intake and feed efficiency as indicators of cow intake and efficiency

Dan Shike
University of Illinois
One of the big questions in feed efficiency has been whether feed efficiency of heifers in the growing stage reflect feed efficiency of cows in the maintenance stage. There is a lot of buzz around efficiency because we are facing a growing world population, increased competition for resources, volatility of feed prices.
Why have we not seen improvement in feed efficiency? One reason is the traditional focus on outputs such as weaning weight, yearling weight and carcass weight. But, feed intake has been difficult to measure in the past.
When we think of feed efficiency in the feedlot, the framework is fairly straightforward, feedlots buy feed and sell beef. But, efficiency in the cow herd is more complicated as there are varying feeding strategies and marketing strategies. We can measure feed efficiency as residual feed intake (eating less than predicted based on body weight and growth is efficient) or as residual gain (gaining more than predicted based on body weight is efficient).

Historically, we have thought that in a restricted feed resource environment we should identify cows with moderate size and moderate milk production. But, not all moderate sized cows have low feed intake and not all large cows have high feed intake! We need to approach this from a more detailed perspective looking at actual feed intake and performance.

From the University of Illinois data, the females that had lower feed intake as a heifer also had lower intake as two-year old cows. Residual gain did not have impacts on cow performance, thus we can select for increase residual gain and not affect our cow herd. The correlation between heifer intake and cow intake was about 45%. Their data suggest very limited antagonistic relationships between feed intake and maternal traits.

In conclusion, Shike makes the important point that we should include feed intake in selection indexes. This would ensure that feed intake was selected in a systematic fashion balanced for the economic importance of feed intake and other production traits.


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