How to Access Feed Efficiency for Your Heifers

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Source: Lactanet, Hannah Sweett, Ph. D. and Brian Van Doormaal

Lactanet’s improved Feed Efficiency evaluations allow you to better predict an animal’s lifetime feed efficiency and maximize your herd profitability! Are you wondering how your animals can receive a Feed Efficiency genetic evaluation

Key points to remember:

  • Feed Efficiency evaluations are automatically reported for all females linked to a DHI herd inventory and for bulls marketed by an A.I. customer of Lactanet.
  • For any female born in Canada or Canadian-owned, a Feed Efficiency evaluation may be purchased via the Lactanet website.
  • Feed Efficiency evaluations include first and second lactation daily feed intake and are independent of body weight and production data to improve metabolic feed efficiency.
  • LPI and Pro$ calculations are modified to include Feed Efficiency, which impacts animals with an official evaluation:
    • To include Feed Efficiency in an animal’s LPI, 10 points will be added (or subtracted) for every Relative Breeding Value (RBV) point for Feed efficiency that is above (or below) the average of 100.
    • For Pro$ values, each point difference from 100 for Feed Efficiency will contribute $25, up or down, to the published Pro$ value.
    • For animals without an official Feed Efficiency evaluation that is publicly available, a breed average of 100 for Feed Efficiency is assumed, resulting in no change to their LPI or Pro$.

I am enrolled on milk recording services, why don’t all my animals have Feed Efficiency?

In recognition of their contributions to genetic evaluations, Feed Efficiency evaluations are automatically provided free of charge for herds enrolled on Lactanet’s milk recording services, including eDHI. These herds will also see a change in LPI or Pro$ for their animals depending on the Feed Efficiency evaluation. That said, Lactanet only knows which animals are part of a herd if they are enrolled in your herd inventory. Over 70% of herds on DHI testing have a complete inventory of young animals. Any heifers that are not part of your herd inventory will therefore not have a public Feed Efficiency evaluation on the Lactanet website. Their Feed Efficiency rating will also not be shared with industry partners, including breed associations, and their LPI and Pro$ will not change.

Therefore, if you are a milk recording customer and would routinely like Feed Efficiency for all your heifers you must provide a full herd inventory on each test day. You can then expect to see a Feed Efficiency genetic evaluation on the Lactanet website the following weekly release. Lactanet customers using either DairyComp as their herd management software or Lactanet field staff to submit electronic registration applications (ERA) to breed associations should already have a complete herd inventory. If you are only interested in Feed Efficiency evaluations for a group of heifers, you can simply enroll individual animals. Once an animal has a public Feed Efficiency evaluation, Lactanet will continue to update it over time even if they leave the herd.

I am not enrolled on milk recording services so how can I purchase Feed Efficiency evaluations?

If you are not a Lactanet milk recording customer, you may purchase a Feed Efficiency evaluation using the Lactanet website for your Holstein heifers and cows that were born in Canada or are Canadian owned. The cost is $5 per animal but if you regularly participate in the type classification program offered by Holstein Canada, a credit of $1 per animal will automatically be applied. The Lactanet website accepts credit card payments for purchasing the Feed Efficiency evaluation for any number of selected females. Once purchased, the animal’s official Feed Efficiency evaluation will be available on the website on the following weekly official release (normally every Tuesday). To learn more about how to purchase a Feed Efficiency evaluation, follow the steps outlined in our May 2022 article.

Summary

Genetic selection for animals that better convert the feed they consume into milk production will not only improve the productivity and profitability of your herd but will support the environmental sustainability of the dairy sector. Herds enrolled on Lactanet’s milk recording services benefit from having Feed Efficiency genetic evaluations automatically and freely available to them but must ensure their herd inventory is complete to have evaluations reported for all their heifers and cows. For herd owners in Canada that are not a Lactanet customer, a purchase option is available via the Lactanet website.