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Solving The Efficiency Puzzle: Are We Missing Something?

  There is evidence that selection for efficiency alone can exert some detrimental effects on production in both sheep and cattle.    

There has been a tremendous buzz throughout the beef industry the last few years and the buzz is “efficiency." Almost every symposium and popular press publication has at least one talk or article about efficiency.

Indexes (residual feed intake and residual average daily gain) have been developed and accepted by the Beef Improvement Federation and most breed registries.

All this is with good reason. Feed input costs are usually the largest single expense for beef producers. If feed costs could be reduced or outputs/unit of feed increased, profitability would increase.

However, as we explore and find new methods to select cattle (i.e., efficiency), it appears we are heading into an arena that has more unknowns than knowns.

For example, reducing feed costs have obvious beneficial implications, but at what cost? And are the advantages truly as beneficial as we think? Do we understand the ramifications of selecting for efficiency?

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