Driftless Region Beef Conference to Focus on Efficiency

Driftless Region Beef ConferenceDUBUQUE, Iowa – Feed efficiency is a major component in the profitability of any beef operation. Just one ercent improvement in feed efficiency during the growing and finishing phase has the same economic impact as a three percent increase in the rate of gain. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef program specialist Denise Schwab said the importance of good beef production efficiency is why it’s the focus of the first day of the Driftless Region Beef Conference on Jan. 31.

“On an individual animal basis, feed efficiency has been difficult to measure at a production level, so cattlemen have not been able to utilize genetic selection to improve this trait,” she said. “We know some animals require more feed to maintain their body before directing energy to growth, but about the only way to identify those inefficient animals has been through individual feed trials, which are complicated and impractical at the farm level.”

Three of the conference speakers play major roles in the federally funded project on evaluating efficiency in the beef industry, and will share their research and expertise with attendees.

“Dan Shike from the University of Illinois will talk about feed efficiency, including industry impacts and alternative measures of efficiency; and Matt Spangler of University of Nebraska-Lincoln will present information on selecting for improved feed efficiency,” Schwab said. “Iowa Beef Center director and Iowa State Extension beef specialist Dan Loy will provide an overview of the feed efficiency project and its related research.”

Potential cost savings to the U.S. beef cattle industry with selection for feed intake, feed efficiency, growth and carcass traits could be more than $1 billion per year. More efficient cattle have the same daily gain but eat less feed, thus saving feedlot operators money and producing more food for a growing nation with the same or fewer inputs. Feed efficiency, feed conversion, residual feed intake, residual gain and value of output per dollar of input all play a major role in the profitability of beef cattle operations.

“Other key speakers for the conference include Allen Bridges from Minnesota speaking on heifer development strategies, and Derrell Peel from Oklahoma sharing his outlook for beef prices into 2013 and beyond,” Schwab said. “Separate breakout sessions for feedlot or cow-calf producers will be held on Friday, Feb. 1.”

The conference will be held at the Grand River Conference Center in Dubuque with the early bird registration fee of $80 due by Jan. 23. After that date it increases to $100. All registration materials and the full program agenda are available at http://www.aep.iastate.edu/beef/ or by contacting Schwab at 319-721-9624 or dschwab@iastate.edu.