Feed Efficiency

Much is being said about agriculture’s impacts on the environment and the potential compulsion to reduce cattle numbers by 15% to meet GHC targets into the future. It leaves one pondering where it’s all going and whether our fearless leaders have got it all right?! Going forward, us as farmers are going to have to maintain a balance between being practical as well as political and potentially as a group, being united and willing to take the odd tractor to parliament, should the need arise – if our own fearless leaders are up to the war cry of course.

But in the meantime, what can we do. The smart thing to do is to try and get a story together and do what we can to be able to defend ourselves against criticism and there will be plenty of it.

This brings me to feed efficiency in cattle.  It is inherent in many Totaranui females, for example Totaranui 825 was in the second cohort of the Australian Sire Benchmarking Programme. He is in the top 1 percentile for feed efficiency across Australasia and we continue to look at feed efficiency traits and residual daily growth epds when we look at sires in the US. But let’s think of the efficiency of the herd. Herds that grow fast, calve as two year olds and have fast finishing progeny are going to produce more kilos of product per unit of GHG gases than another herd that doesn’t perform as well. One client has said to me I should be mentioning how fast and to what weights his progeny do with Totaranui genetics and as it’s relevant to this topic, I will. Dave Danks of Monarae Station, Wairoa, has just recently started mating his heifers. His fears that they would have compromised structural size and performance after the first calving have been allayed, in terms of total MA cows, he has not had to reduce numbers to accommodate the new priority class. Their steers in a common year are killed at 16 months at well over 300kgs carcass weight, albeit on their finishing farm down below. This has to be efficient. Across the herd, genetics and management have allowed them to produce more kilos of beef per kilo consumed than many other herds in the country.