Project Number:               6110001009

Lead Contractor:              Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board

Other Contractors:           Scottish Rural University College

Start & end dates:             01 January 2015 – 31 December 2018

Commercial beef farm sought for feed efficiency project

AHDB is seeking to recruit one commercial beef farm where feed efficiency measurements in growing beef cattle can be recorded, as part of a wider programme. The farm must have a good handling system, be equipped to feed a total mixed ration, and be able to install specific feeding equipment to enable the recording of individual feed intake of cattle.  Feed intake recording equipment will be provided.  Payment will be based on successful delivery of the required records.

A range of suckler bred and dairy x beef cattle will come on to the farm for periods of around 3 months at a time. During this period they will be group housed, fed a defined ration and weighed regularly.

We are looking for a farmer that can demonstrate high levels of management on their current unit, have the capacity to purchase the cattle required for measurement, have an aptitude for accurate record keeping and communication, with willingness to spend time showing visitors around the unit and promoting the project.  Farms should be located in England north of the M4 or in Wales.

More information on the project, and an application form is given below.  For queries regarding the application or the project then please contact Natalie Cormack on 07866 934563 or email ku.gr1503448378o.bdh1503448378a@kca1503448378mroc.1503448378eilat1503448378an 1503448378

The closing date for receipt of applications is 5pm 15 July 2017.


 Beef Feed Efficiency Programme

Beef Feed Efficiency Programme Logo

This programme is currently looking to source cattle meeting the following criteria:

  • Male (suckler or dairy bred)
  • In groups of four – 16 from the same sire
  • Aged between two weeks and eight months old
  • From a known pedigree registered Limousin sire (sired by stock bull or AI semen)

Market prices will be paid for any selected cattle, alternatively, calves can be provided on a B&B arrangement.

Please email Natalie Cormack or ring on 07866 934563.



 Cattle using Hoko bins at SRUCThe Problem:

A Defra funded scoping study (IF0207) showed that selection of purebred beef cattle using the currently available selection index tools will deliver a substantial positive impact on the economic and environmental sustainability of beef cattle production in the UK.

Genetic improvement plays an important role in developing ruminant systems that will be sustainable in the future, and produce food in an environmentally-friendly manner. Also, genetic improvement of livestock is a particularly cost-effective technology, producing permanent and cumulative changes in performance.

Recording feed intake in order to include a measure of resource use efficiency into existing selection indices, is expected to increase the realised benefits in farm level profit by around 39% and in GHG reduction by around 22%.  There is evidence of genetic variation in the efficiency with cattle convert the resources within a system into animal product. There is a need to understand what variation exists between genotypes within breeds in the efficiency with which animals utilize nutrients and how efficiency traits can best be incorporated into breeding programmes.

Cattle on test at SRUC beef research unit








Aims and Objectives:

  1. To establish a consortium of stakeholders in the UK beef industry, including academia and governments, and complete the scoping and design of the project
  2. To undertake on-farm animal-based studies to devise, test and validate selection and breeding objectives for feed efficiency
  3. To develop protocols for recording data necessary for selection for feed efficiency at a national scale
  4. To establish a network for national feed intake recording
  5. To undertake genetic analysis and determine selection criteria using data collected

To establish appropriate business model to ensure an on-going national programme of feed intake recording

Natalie Cormack (Delivery Manager) and Alison Glasgow (British Limousin Cattle Society) at SRUC Beef Research Unit









The main elements of the project will be:

  • Agreeing industry-wide protocols for:

measuring feed efficiency
taking and storing tissue samples for potential future genomic analysis

  • Defining a “blueprint for feed efficiency recording facilities on commercial farms
  • Installation of facilities (up to 72 individual feeders) for measuring feed efficiency on commercial finishing units
    Collection of data on around 1800 cattle during the project
  • Determination of genetic parameters for efficiency traits in one breed. This is the basic analysis required for the inclusion of the efficiency traits in breeding programmes
  • Establishing a network for national feed intake recording
  • Developing a set of possible business models for the continued recording of feed efficiency after the project period


Beef Feed Efficiency Open Day – 6 July 2017

Over 60 farmers and industry representatives attended an open day at the Dorset beef feed efficiency recording farm in July.  As well as an update on the national beef feed efficiency programme the programme of speakers provided practical guidance to beef farmers on how they can manage their cattle to improve feed efficiency covering topics such as nutrition, health and breeding.

Presentations from the events can be found below:


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