Current breeding strategies have made an exceptional market for beef-on-dairy animals bringing significant value to the dairy producer and the beef supply chain, which is maximised by the genetics selected within those breeding decisions.

EcoFeed® is the genetic fingerprint of feed conversation efficiency and offers a unique opportunity to increase profitability and environmental sustainability.

Efficient animals, whether that be dairy or dairy-cross animals, eat less feed while maintaining high levels of productivity. Studies by STgenetics show animals with high feed conversion efficiency consume 17% to 24% less feed than their inefficient counterparts, irrespective of that animal’s size. As a consequence, it also leads to:

The EcoFeed® Index uses a measure of feed conversion efficiency known as residual feed intake (RFI). This is the difference between actual feed consumed and the expected amount of feed intake based on what is required to maintain an animal’s performance level. The trait is heritable at 0.24% allowing for significant improvement between each generation. Those with a favourable RFI will produce less greenhouse gases including methane.

Breeding the dairy cow to a high EcoFeed® beef sire will improve the feed conversion efficiency of beef-on-dairy progeny, therefore reducing the carbon footprint of the beef supply chain, resulting in high overall net profits in the dairy farming system.

How is data collected?

Cogent and STgenetics are committed to precise data collection. Beef feed efficiency data is recorded through a bespoke partnership with a dedicated project farm where feed intake, growth and other phenotypes are collected for sire progeny. On-farm phenotypes along with animal parentage and carcass data are combined with genomic data to identify elite feed efficient animals.

How to use EcoFeed Beef?

EcoFeed® indexes are generated for each sire from the genomic and phenotypic data of its progeny within a beef-on-dairy breeding programme. The scores range from 85 to 120 with the higher scores representing the more efficient sire, with ~70% reliability or greater. Research shows on average the most efficient group will consume 19% less feed per day - equivalent to 1.95kg DM per day.

EcoFeed® does not correlate with any other valuable trait therefore it can be added to breeding criteria to improve efficiency while improving or maintaining other productive traits, driving an improvement in overall profitability.