MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – At a time when many are working to shed excess weight, a team of West Virginia University researchers are looking to pack on the pounds – to cattle.
And they’re using cutting-edge technology to do it.
GrowSafe 4000E. WVU’s Reymann Memorial Farm in Wardensville is now home to one of the most advanced pieces of feed efficiency technology in the nation, the GrowSafe 4000E.
It’s one of only a handful of these systems in use in the United States, and WVU animal scientists think it will have significant benefits for the state’s beef producers and the WVU young sire evaluation program.
Feed tracker. “Feed efficiency is a measure of how much animals eat as compared to how much they grow,” said Gene Felton, assistant professor of animal and veterinary sciences.
Ideally, cattle will experience maximum growth with a minimum input of feed, saving production costs and increasing profitability.
Feed costs account for about 60 percent of production costs in cattle production, Felton said.
Consequently, it’s in a producer’s best interest to select an animal on the right side of the feed efficiency equation, requiring as little feed as possible to create a pound in weight gain.
Computer check. The GrowSafe takes a lot of the guesswork out of the selection process, Felton explained.
The system includes a feeding station that only one animal can use at a time. Each bull or cow is tagged, allowing a system of sensors to record how much it consumed and how that feed consumption was broken down over time.
At the end of the test period, system users can compare consumption quantities and rates with weight gain in the test herd, finding animals that are making best use of the feed provided.
“Even a one-pound improvement in feed efficiency can lead to significant savings for cattle producers,” Felton said.
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