By selecting genetics with a high index for feed efficiency dairy farmers can use sires that breed cows as better feed converters.
This means cows produce more milk and meat on less feed and at the same time ensure that cows have good health and reproduction performance, and long productive life. That helps improve the profitability and sustainability of the business.
The feed efficiency index shows how efficient a cow is in turning feed into milk. Whilst some cows are good at this, others use too much feed for maintenance and are less efficient when it comes to utilising the feed.
The development of a reliable index for feed efficiency requires direct and accurate measurements of individual cow’s feed intake in a large number of lactating cows under the conditions in which they are expected to perform.
The cows sired by the bulls with a high index for feed efficiency use fewer feed resources, as they convert feed more efficiently and require less energy for maintenance.
That means the resources are used more efficiently and dairy farmers can produce more milk and meat with fewer inputs reducing the environmental impact.
Today dairy farmers have access to a number of indexes that rank sires for feed efficiency, including both the national indexes (Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the Nordic countries, the United States, the United Kingdom) and company feed efficiency indexes.