Saved Feed Index to be released in autumn 2019

For the past two years, The Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE), the Nordic Cattle Genetic Evaluation (NAV) and the University of Aarhus in Denmark together with VikingGenetics have been working on developing a Feed Efficiency Index that can stand out from other ones available on the market – an index that dairy farmers around the world can trust.
Dairy farmers around the world know that the biggest cost on farms is feed for the herd. Breeding for a cow that is more efficient in converting feed into milk kg will soon be possible with the new index VikingGenetics is about to launch.
 
After collecting a great deal of data in the most modern way, the cooperation between LUKE, NAV, the University of Aarhus and VikingGenetics has resulted in the index called “Saved Feed Index” that will be published by VikingGenetics in autumn 2019. Dairy farmers will be able to use the Saved Feed Index to select bulls that breed daughters that consume less feed. 
 
The Saved Feed Index will actually consist of two indices; Maintenance and Metabolic. Maintenance is how much energy is needed for purely subsistence feeding, not for any production. Data registered from Denmark include body weight, and from Finland girth width. Correlated conformation traits are also input; stature, body depth and body width.

The Metabolic index is the element of feed needed for production. This is called the residual feed intake”. This part will be reinforced when we introduce data from
Cattle feed intake (CFIT), obtained via 3D cameras installed above the cows in feeding areas. The cameras recognize each cow by their back conformation and measure the pile of silage in front of each cow before the cow begins to eat, and when the cow has left the feeding trough. This technology gives us the exact feed intake of each individual cow. CFIT is currently at the research stage and as soon as we have enough data, it will be included in the metabolic part of the Saved Feed Index.

More climate friendly cows into the bargain

 
By breeding cows that eat less, farmers will also lower methane emissions because less feed intake means lower methane emissions. Research regarding greenhouse gases indicates that, on average, 6% of the energy that a cow eats, are spent on producing methane. However, this varies from 2-12% depending on how efficient the cow is in converting feed into milk.

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