Beef Research School: Using RFI to Breed an Efficient Beef Herd

How much would you save if each of your cows ate 10 pounds of feed less per day but gained the same? The exact value would change, but the cost savings would be significant no matter where you farm. But is there a way to not just identify more efficient animals, but also breed the trait into the herd? Yes — the trait is called relative feed intake, or RFI, and Canadian researchers are working at finding quick and cost-effective ways to rank cattle so that ranchers can incorporate RFI values into their breeding programs.

For past Beef Research School episodes, click here.

In this episode of the Beef Research School, Dr. John Basarab, researcher with Alberta Agriculture, explains what RFI is and how selecting for the trait will impact feeding efficiency of the Canadian beef herd. Sean Thompson, masters student at the University of Manitoba, also explains a current research project looking at RFI values and how ration changes may impact those rankings. There are important considerations for the cow-calf producer, as well as feeders and finishers, when it comes to RFI values, as you’ll see in this video.

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