Feed represents as much as 75% of all production costs. Improving feed efficiency can mean big savings for producers. Residual feed intake (RFI) was first identified by US researchers in the 1960’s. The trait lay dormant on a commercial scale until GrowSafe introduced feed intake measurement technology practical enough for production livestock. RFI has emerged as one of the important feed efficiency traits.
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What is RFI?
RFI is the measured difference between an animal’s actual feed intake and their expected feed intake for a given level of production for maintenance and growth. Cattle with low or negative RFI values are more efficient than their high or positive RFI contemporaries. RFI is a moderately heritable trait (35-40%) and when used as a selection tool will result in progeny that consume less feed for the same level of production. RFI is independent of production, growth and body size meaning that selection for animals with low RFI will result in reduced feed intake without compromising body size or growth.
How RFI is Measured
GrowSafe has made feed intake measurement on ranch as simple as feeding cattle. A GrowSafe System® can be operated simply in any pen feeding environment without any specialized technical training. The system collects data accurately outdoors; in wind, rain and snow. Feed is delivered into the system just like a regular feed bunk.
In beef cattle, individual animal intake is measured by a GrowSafe System® over a 50 day standardized test following a 10+ day warm-up period. When cattle have acclimated to bunk, ration and environment the test begins. Cattle are weighed before feeding on two consecutive days at the start and end of the test period using a conventional chute or continuously using a GrowSafe Beef® system (GSB). A GSB system is a series of weighing platforms installed around the existing water trough. The animal is weighed every time he drinks.