Paying more attention to feed efficiency indexes when selecting sires for dairy herds will help compensate the escalating costs of feed being witnessed today.

With that in mind dairy farmers are being urged to consider all options to help mitigate these high costs and one perfect tool for doing so is a more targeted and efficient use of genetics.

By selecting genetics with a high index for feed efficiency dairy farmers can use sires that breed cows as better feed converters.

There are five straight questions you should ask your genetics rep when considering feed efficiency indexes.

1. Is the data collected from commercial herds without disturbing cows’ natural behaviour and routines on the farm?

2. Is the data on feed intake collected on lactating cows?

3. Is the feed intake measured throughout the whole lactation and over cow’s lifetime?

4. Does the index allow to breed for better feed efficiency without the negative impact on production, health and fertility?

5. Does the feed efficiency index account for metabolic efficiency?

The Scottish Farmer:

Feed efficiency index advantages

Breeding for higher feed efficiency helps reduce the environmental impact of dairy and beef industries, as more feed efficient cows have lower methane emissions.

Jan Lassen, MSc., PhD, and Senior Research Manager at the Nordic genetics company VikingGenetics owned by the cattle breeders in Denmark, Sweden and Finland, is encouraging farmers to consider the value of Saved Feed Index that is part of Nordic Total Merit index.

Mr Lassen said: “Breeding for improved efficiency is a win-win situation. Higher production occurs when we select the most efficient animals. There are no negative consequences on health, reproduction and longevity traits.”

The Saved Feed Index is based on data from the Cattle Feed Intake System (CFIT), a state-of-the-art system where 3D cameras and artificial intelligence are used to identify the cows, estimate their weight, and quantify how much they eat.

Backed by more than 9 years of research and development, CFIT provides real-life data for individual cow’s feed intake collected in the cow’s natural environment 24/7 year around:

  • 1,300,000+ daily intake records on lactating cows​
  • 12,000+ cows with CFIT data​
  • 1,000,000+ feed visits per day

Watch the video about CFIT technology

The Scottish Farmer:

By including the Saved Feed Index into the breeding goal dairy farmers get an excellent tool to optimise their business and meet the demands for sustainable food production.

Curious about the impact of breeding?

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