There were 130 entries to this year’s BEEF Efficiency and Profitability Contest. Among all the participants, the best score was four correct answers, while most entrants only had one correct.
These results show just how difficult it is to appraise feeder calves visually and judge their future feedyard performance, carcass quality and yield grades. They also show the importance of knowing as much about the performance and carcass merit of your cattle via data collection and genetic and progeny testing.
The contest includes awards in three categories. Those winners are:
- Youth division — Elizabeth Baxter, Cherryville, NC; $1,000 Visa gift card.
- Adult division — Jason Evitts, Hartsville, TN; $1,000 Visa gift card.
- Feedyard division — Tim Schiefelbein, Schiefelbein Farms, Kimball, MN; $5,000 in Merial products.
The cattle used in the contest were all from one ranch: Circle X Land and Cattle Co. The cattle were born in January and February 2013 and were of similar genetics (Brangus). All were handled and fed in the same manner.
Such similarity in genetics and handling would seem to suggest that the cattle would bear some similarity in performance, but the final results do not bear out that contention. There was a total difference of $1,031.98 in net return between the six cattle with the highest residual feed intake (RFI) and the six cattle with the lowest RFI.
The cattle owner placed his calves in the Texas A&M University research trial to discover the RFI data on his cattle. He also wanted to obtain gain, feed efficiency, and carcass USDA Quality and Yield Grade data on his cattle.
The rancher plans on using these data when selecting bulls and replacement heifers for his herd. This set of information will also prove valuable when the rancher markets his next set of feeder calves from the progeny of his herd.
How is this information usable by producers? There are currently more than 55 facilities with pens equipped with GrowSafe intake measurement systems at various academic and commercial test sites in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming and Canada. Access a list of these test facilities here.
We recommend purchasing bulls from seedstock genetic providers who incorporate efficiency traits into their selection programs.
Thanks to Circle X and Graham Land and Cattle Company for their assistance with this project, BEEF for its partnership and Merial for sponsoring this educational effort.
Dan Hale is a professor and Extension meat specialist, and Gordon Carstens is a professor of animal nutrition, both with Texas A&M University in College Station, TX.
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