Breeding cattle that eat less

Thursday, 29 February 2024

Reducing the amount your cattle eat is a great way to reduce your bills. If you can achieve this without a drop in production, you will improve your farm's profitability. More efficient cattle also have better 'green credentials' as there is a strong link between lower feed intake and lower methane emissions.

As part of a Defra-funded beef feed efficiency programme, and alongside collaborators at SRUC, we have measured feed intake on more than 2,000 store cattle to produce genomic estimated breeding values (GEBVs) to measure the genetic potential for feed intake.

By DNA testing all trial cattle, we can now use these results to predict the feed intake genetic potential (measured using GEBVs) for other cattle with just a DNA test. We have worked with the British Limousin Cattle Society to produce GEBVs for all currently genotyped Limousin animals.

GEBVs for feed intake will be published in March through AHDB’s National Beef Evaluations and later this year through the British Limousin Cattle Society’s taurus database. For those using Stabiliser genetics, similar data on feed efficiency is also available from the Stabiliser Cattle Company.   

If you’re buying a Limousin bull later this year, ask the breeder about feed efficiency. Using feed intake GEBVs, alongside your normal bull selection criteria, will help you breed calves that are cheaper to rear and finish.