Tangle Ridge Ranch

Individual Animal Feed Efficiency Testing

Each bull and heifer complete an individual animal feed efficiency trial annually.

Measuring individual animal feed efficiency is a relatively rare occurrence because of the difficulty in accurately and cost effectively measuring daily feed intake of each animal. By using the feeding bunks and electronic system developed by GrowSafe Systems, continual 24 hour a day monitoring of each cattle’s feed consumption is recorded for a 70 day plus trial period.

The first set of bulls to use the new machines at Cattleland started their test November 10, 2004, that ran through February 3, 2005. There were several breeds of bulls going through this first round to gather information as to their ability to convert feed to pounds of gain. Bulls were also ultrasound measured for carcass traits upon completion of test.

Since then, the bulls and females have had individual animal feed efficiency tests done on the whole calf crop to get an accurate measure on the whole group.

Defining residual feed intake

Net feed efficiency or net feed intake (NFI) or residual feed intake (RFI) is defined as the difference between an animal’s actual feed intake and its expected feed requirements for maintenance and growth. Thus, it is the variation in feed intake that remains after the requirements for maintenance and growth have been removed. Like a golf score, a lower value is better and indicates an efficient animal.

Considerable variation exists between individual animals within breeds or genetic strains in RFI. This infers that substantial progress can be made in RFI or feed efficiency since the heritability of the trait is approximately 40%.

Tangle Ridge Ranch

The trial

The main purpose of this trial is to identify feed efficient breeding cattle and breeding bulls.

Ultimately, we can use this information and superior genetics to also improve the efficiency of the cowherd and feeder cattle in order to reduce unit costs of production.

Each pen is fitted with a GrowSafe System for automatically monitoring individual animal feed intake whenever it comes and goes from the feeder via an ear tag button.

Tangle Ridge Ranch bulls

R&R Acres is the only bull supplier in Canada that has tested their entire bull calf crops for Net Feed Efficiency for the last 19 years in a row. Tangle Ridge Ranch purchased their operation in 2021.

With 19 years of data compiled from our entire bull calf crops and 15 years of heifer crops, we have identified the superior individuals, sire groups and dams. There is a difference!

Feed efficiency is really a cow herd trait… not just a feedlot trait.