Feed and phenotyping

Published Thursday, 2nd August 2018 in Research news


A special event at Scotland’s only “phenotype farm” has highlighted the importance of feed-intake monitoring.

A phenotype is any characteristic on an individual animal which can be measured, such as feed intake, docility or 400 day weight.

More than 50 farmers and industry representatives gathered at Ingliston Farm at Eassie, Forfar, to view the state-of-the-art equipment and systems used to record individual daily feed intake in beef cattle.

Funded by the Scottish Government and ABP and managed by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the Beef Feed Efficiency Programme aims to produce breeding values for feed intake to enable farmers to select more efficient animals.

Ingliston is one of four farms in the UK undertaking feed intake recording for the project, which is funded in the rest of the UK by Defra and AHDB.

Using calves from Limousin and Angus bulls, the project aims to gather more than 2,700 individual animal intake records by the end of the year.

Recording feed intake in order to include a measure of resource use efficiency into existing selection indices, is expected to increase the realised benefits in farm level profit by around 39 per cent and a reduction in greenhouse gases by around 22 per cent.

Professor Eileen Wall from SRUC, the project lead in Scotland, said: “A number of other countries have already made movements in this area and it’s important for the Scotch Beef brand to maintain its international reputation. It’s also extremely good for the environment as producing the same amount of beef with less feed means fewer methane emissions per kilo.”

Professor Mike Coffey, Team Leader of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at SRUC, added: “The efficiency with which farmers use resources to produce food will come under increasing scrutiny from consumers and government. This is a proactive move by the industry to select animals that are more efficient converters.”

Frank Ross, General Manager, ABP Perth, said: “It’s great to see so many farmers taking a keen interest in the way efficiency in production can be obtained and improved. ABP has a very strong interest in efficient and profitable beef production to ensure a high throughput of homegrown beef through its state-of-the-art processing plants.”

To find out more about the research, click here

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