Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Beef Feed Project's Data Ready

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Beef Feed Project's Data Ready

Article excerpt


DATA collection is now complete for the first batch of cattle involved in the groundbreaking Beef Feed Efficiency Programme, marking a significant project milestone.

The Defra and AHDB-funded programme aims to develop standard recording approaches and create a network of industry embedded recording units.

The programme is also developing an estimated breeding value (EBV) for feed efficiency to aid genetic selection within the Limousin breed, with the aim of extending this to other cattle breeds in future.

The initial phase of the project, which is now underway, involves beef cattle from both the suckler and the dairy herd being tested at Scotland's Rural College (SRUC).

The first test batch included 93 Limousin-sired cattle, ranging from eight to 11 months old at the start of the trial.

The cattle represent 13 sires and originated from 10 herds spread geographically from Orkney to the North of England.

In order to ensure high health status, the steers were quarantined for health testing over four weeks, before moving to a four-week acclimatisation period to enable them to learn how to use the feed troughs. The troughs recognise electronic identifi-cation tags and continuously monitor the weight of the feed in order to record intake on each feeding occasion.

Trial data collection began in early September and continued for nine weeks.

Other parameters measured during the trial include live weight, back fat depth and carcase weight and classi-fication.

Approximately 500 cattle will be tested at SRUC in total, before the recording is rolled out to two or three specially equipped commercial farms.

Various options are being investigated to ensure a steady supply of cattle for the programme.

The next batch will include cattle moved on to the test unit under a "bed and breakfast" type arrangement, where the farmer retains ownership and the cattle return to their herd of origin after the test period. …

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