The Problem with… Testing Bulls for Feed Efficiency

by | Apr 25, 2023 | Kit Pharo | 0 comments

More and more seedstock producers are using GrowSafe equipment to measure and compare feed efficiency in the bulls they sell. On the surface, this seems like a very simple and accurate way to test and compare animals for feed efficiency. There is one very important fact, however, that most people totally ignore.
FACT: Producing a pound of Fat requires 2.5 times MORE feed than producing a pound of Muscle or Bone.
As a result of this fact… all feed efficiency tests will heavily favor tall, lean, late-maturing animals that lack the propensity for fat deposition and fleshing ability. They perform best in a test like this because they are gaining pounds of muscle and bone – instead of fat.
In contrast, moderate-sized, early-maturing, easy-fleshing animals will appear to perform poorly in a test like this because they stop growing up and start storing up energy in the form of fat at a much younger age.
Terminal or Maternal… Testing bulls for feed efficiency makes sense if you have a terminal program in which ALL of your calves are sent to the feedlot – and no heifers are kept as replacements. However, if you produce your own replacement females, buying bulls that performed well in a feed efficiency test will do more harm than good.
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