September 2016

Industry Investments

Canadian Hereford Association’s Feed Efficiency Initiative Provides Valuable Information to Producers

Using genetics to evaluate animals has become more common within the cattle industry, as the information allows producers to increase efficiency, enhance breeding practices and streamline costs. While it is an expensive process to identify those traits, including those associated with residual feed intake (RFI), most producers find success using an Angus RFI genomic prediction equation.

However, Herefords have a more distinct genetic make-up, so the Canadian Hereford Association (CHA) decided to undergo the process to create an RFI evaluation for Herefords.

“We have put a lot of effort in building producer awareness of the value of using genomics to determine RFI,” said CHA Executive Director, Stephen Scott. “Now, the work we did over the last few years has provided us with the opportunity of creating not only a breed-specific evaluation, but also the first RFI evaluation based on Canadian cattle.”

CHA’s initial efforts paid off, as industry enthusiasm for increasing RFI data for Herefords is widespread. CHA partnered with Olds College, the University of Alberta, Cattleland Feedyards, the Uruguayan Hereford Association and the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) for research in this area and recent feeding trials. Scott recognizes that these partnerships, combined with interest and financial support from its members, are a key part of this project.

“During this past year, we conducted feeding trails to allow us to test Herefords to develop genomically-enhanced EPDs, or expected progeny differences, for RFI,” he said. “The original plan was to genotype 250 bulls, but thanks to overwhelming demand and producer enrollment, we were able to genotype an additional 100 bulls.”

The innovation of this project, combined with the fact that most of these bulls were from Alberta, made ALMA a natural partner for CHA.

“This is a great example of how collaboration and initiative can lead to unified success,” said Michelle Normand, ALMA’s Senior Manager of Industry and Market Development. “By helping Hereford producers make breeding decisions based on RFI, they can enhance efficiencies, which supports long- term industry sustainability.”

From here, Scott says that the CHA intends to communicate the information gathered through the research and feeding trails with commercial and purebred cattlemen.

“Producer interest in this area is still increasing, along with the desire to adopt technologies associated with targeting RFI,” he said. “By sharing this knowledge, we can help further strengthen our industry and open up potential advantages to our producers.”

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