Feeding Cattle Efficiently Leads the Way to Input Cost Savings – Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The costs of inputs in agricultural production continue to rise. But farmers and ranchers continue to use the latest research and technology to continue producing high-quality products – from livestock to crops – while lowering input costs.

Scott Lake, a beef extension specialist at the University of Wyoming, says feed efficiency is an important tool producers can use, in conjunction with growth traits, to produce pounds of beef profitably.

“With fewer resources and rising feed costs, producers need to be able to feed livestock affordably, but it’s important to remember that there are two different sides to the feed equation. feed efficiency – the inputs and the outputs,” he says. “By associating feed efficiency with growth, there will be peripheral animals that are very efficient and grow well. In my mind, these are the animals we can use to make a difference because we are reducing feed intake, but still producing more pounds of beef.

Efficient and sustainable beef

Leo McDonnell, a leader in efficiency testing in the beef industry, shares every manufacturing or production industry on day-to-day efficiency – measuring their input costs against output values ​​for return on investment – and the beef industry should be no different.

“If you’re not efficient, you’re not competitive,” he says.

Additionally, he notes that it is almost impossible to be sustainable in an industry without being efficient.

“It’s hard to talk about sustainability without the efficient use of resources, such as grass, feed and water,” adds McDonnell.

Reducing the carbon footprint per pound of beef produced is a major goal, especially as entire industries directly related to crop and animal production commit to increasing sustainable practices.

“Senior executives at some companies will be paid more for carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas reduction than for profitability – industry is currently saying we need to be more environmentally friendly,” says Jim Jensen, owner of Lucky 7 Angus in Riverton. “Food efficiency is a huge tool that allows us to achieve this.”

Put the cattle to the test

McDonnell Angus, Lucky 7 Angus, Byergo Angus, and HERB Angus are seedstock producers that leverage feed efficiency testing to increase the bottom line of operations for their commercial customers.

Lucky 7 Angus was the first Angus seedstock-only operation to implement a Grow Safe system to collect science-grade feed efficiency data on their bulls and has been conducting feed efficiency testing for over 25 years. Jensen notes that this year they found the best combination of genetics they had ever seen for feed efficiency.

Jensen explains that the ranch produces bulls that have been proven to be feed-efficient — environmentally friendly bulls — under real-world conditions.

Among other benefits, Jensen found a positive influence of feed efficiency genetics on winter feed resources. On his operation, feed-efficient cattle can graze longer, and when he begins to feed, Jensen shares the longer-lasting hay stack than he would with less-efficient cattle.

“The cost of winning is a big issue for us,” shares Bryson Byergo. “Feed conversion and efficiency are directly related to the performance of our bulls, as our customers are ultimately paid based on the cost of gain.”

The Byergos began measuring feed efficiency in the early 1990s at Northwestern Missouri State University and have now invested in an on-farm system to test all bulls on their farm.

“We measure the animals’ actual input and actual gain to see what their real-world feed efficiency is,” says Byergo, noting that over the past 30 years the operation has seen a difference in their herd and increased the number of cows they can run per acre.

Additionally, the Byergos have seen positive traits pass from effective sires to their daughters.

“We see a direct correlation in bulls converting feed for their daughters into cows, which stay meatier and produce more pounds per acre,” says Byergo. “We continue to see our cowherd reduce input costs and improve the bottom line.”

Brian Herbolsheimer of HERB Angus sees similar benefits from feed efficiency testing in his herd.

“We started to focus on feed efficiency to separate ourselves from other growers in the area,” says Herbolsheimer, sharing HERB Angus recently started using feed efficiency. “We have seen benefits in outliers and building our herd based on high performing animals. No cow is more special than next year’s progress, so we begin to identify cow families, which pass on the efficiency trait.

Economy of efficiency

Seedstock producers using feed efficiency testing focus on improving efficiency for their own herds, but also for their commercial customers.

“Seventy percent of the cost of any type of livestock is feed,” Herbolsheimer notes. “So if we can make livestock more efficient, everyone can put more money in their pockets. Feed costs aren’t going to drop anytime soon, so we’re working to find ways to maximize performance with less feed intake.

“Efficiency is the biggest economic indicator in the beef industry,” says Jensen. “If we produce cattle that are 30% more efficient for feed, we in turn can make 30% more profit.”

Lake adds that feed efficiency is more than just reducing feed intake.

“There’s a huge difference between having a cow that eats less and produces moderately and a cow that eats moderately and produces more,” says Lake.

McDonnell shares that there is often a 20% difference in efficiency between cattle scoring in the top third of a feed efficiency test and cattle scoring in the bottom third of the test.

Byergo adds that many cattle producers see production on the business side of production, but there are three big areas that he sees as significant cost savings for producers using efficient bulls for feed: herd maintenance of cows, weaning and backgrounding and the cost of gain at the feedlot. .

“It’s easy to see a $300 to $400 variation between low-yielding and high-yielding cattle at the feedlot in terms of cost of gain,” Byergo says.

“Margins are tight in agriculture,” adds McDonnell. “Anything we can do to improve our profits is important, and efficiency data has shown over $100 reductions in pasture and feed costs for cows, over $150 benefits in the park feedlot and savings of $50 to $70 in stocking and backgrounding programs. »

He continues, “Fertility, longevity and other maternal traits are important, but if they are removed, efficiency gives producers a return well above many carcass premiums.

Herbolsheimer shares at the end of the day, he thinks it’s his job as a seed grower to help his customers be more successful, and the raw data provided by feed efficiency testing helps him do that. .

“Feed efficiency itself is real data and it’s something we can work with directly,” Herbolsheimer says. “Feed costs, corn prices and land values ​​will continue to rise, so monitoring efficiency will be very important in the future.”

Lucky 7 Angus will hold their annual sale at the Riverton Cattle Auction on March 5th. For more information, visit lucky7angus.com.

Byergo Angus will host their 72n/a Anniversary sale in Savannah, Mo. on February 19th. For more information or to consult the sales catalog, visit byergo.com.

HERB Angus will hold its Workin’ Man’s Angus bull sale on March 12 in Foster, Neb. For more information or to request a sales catalog, visit herbcattleco.com.

Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send your comments on this article to [email protected]wylr.net.


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