An attentive and interested audience of over 130 came to Wold Farm to hear about the success of the 5 year project that has produced an EBV for Net Feed Efficiency in the Stabiliser breed. This is the first EBV of its kind to be implemented in any cattle breeding programme in the UK and is now live for all Stabiliser cattle in the breeding programme. The project was funded by Innovate UK as part of the sustainable protein theme.
The Beef Improvement Group Ltd were delighted to host an Open Day celebrating the successful completion of the 5 year project to develop and implement a Net Feed Efficiency EBV for the Stabiliser Breed.
Tim Rymer CEO of JSR Farms chaired the day and acknowledge the efforts of all the partners in the project with a special mention for the Givendale Team who, as Tim noted, “did much of the heavy lifting that made the project work”.
In a densely packed morning programme first up was Richard Fuller, who briefly outlined the origins of the Stabiliser project and the move to develop an NFE EBV. Denis Drew from Alltech/Keenan noted the importance of ration construction AND understanding how much of the planned ration is eaten by the cattle.
Dr Jimmy Hyslop ran through how the project had been delivered and the basics of NFE. He carefully explained that the NFE trait is a measure of feed efficiency use that is corrected for live weight, growth rate and fatness. In practice this means we can identify feed efficient animals which are NOT going to increase mature weight or reduce growth rates . Jimmy highlighted that the difference in performance between the average of the most efficient third of bulls on test and the least efficient third of bulls on test equated to a £100 pound saving in feed per year.
Doug Dear finishes around 700 head of cattle a year and over the last 4 years he reckons he has finished about 2000 stabiliser bulls and steers. Doug is completely sure that Stabiliser cattle are the most feed efficient animals he gets through the yard. His business model, based on retained ownership by the breeder and a “bed and breakfast” fee, means he keeps detailed records of feed eaten and growth achieved. Last year the Stabiliser cattle averaged a FCR of 5.5:1 (kg DM per kg LWG) on a maize silage/ barley diet fed at 65%DM. Doug uses a high starch ration and says, “Rumen space is limited so we want to fill it up with ‘good gear’ and that way we can make every mouthful count”. The best group of 40 Stabiliser bulls converted at 4.6:1.
Dr Duncan Pullar, the Technical Development Manger for BIG Ltd, spoke about the importance of a balanced approach to breed development and how NFE is important but should not eclipse the other traits. With that in mind Duncan discussed the importance of: cow size (not too big!) for optimising productivity per hectare; when to pick bulls for slaughter to optimise margin (not too big, not too old and not too fat!); marbling or intra muscular fat to the beef eating experience (7-9% is ideal).
David Alvis rounded off the morning session with a summary of the speeches before lunch of Stabiliser roast beef and a tour of the Givendale herd led by JSR Givendale manger Davy Thirwell.