Characterization of feed efficiency traits and relationships with feeding behavior and ultrasound carcass traits in growing bulls. Academic Article uri icon


  • The objectives of this study were to characterize feed efficiency traits and to examine phenotypic correlations between performance and feeding behavior traits, and ultrasound measurements of carcass composition in growing bulls. Individual DMI and feeding behavior traits were measured in Angus bulls (n=341; initial BW=371.1+/-50.8 kg) fed a corn silage-based diet (ME=2.77 Mcal/kg of DM) for 84 d in trials 1 and 2 and for 70 d in trials 3 and 4 by using a GrowSafe feeding system. Meal duration (min/d) and meal frequency (events/d) were calculated for each bull from feeding behavior recorded by the GrowSafe system. Ultrasound measures of carcass 12th-rib fat thickness (BF) and LM area (LMA) were obtained at the start and end of each trial. Residual feed intake (RFIp) was computed from the linear regression of DMI on ADG and midtest BW(0.75) (metabolic BW, MBW), with trial, trial by ADG, and trial by midtest BW(0.75) as random effects (base model). Overall ADG, DMI, and RFIp were 1.44 (SD=0.29), 9.46 (SD=1.31), and 0.00 (SD=0.78) kg/d, respectively. Stepwise regression analysis revealed that inclusion of BW gain in BF and LMA in the base model increased R(2) (0.76 vs. 0.78) and accounted for 9% of the variation in DMI not explained by MBW and ADG (RFIp). Residual feed intake and carcass-adjusted residual feed intake (RFIc) were moderately correlated with DMI (0.60 and 0.55, respectively) and feed conversion ratio (FCR; 0.49 and 0.45, respectively), and strongly correlated with partial efficiency of growth (PEG; -0.84 and -0.78, respectively), but not with ADG or MBW. Gain in BF was weakly correlated with RFIp (0.30), FCR (-0.15), and PEG (-0.11), but not with RFIc. Gain in LMA was weakly correlated with RFIp (0.17) and FCR (-0.19), but not with PEG or RFIc. The Spearman rank correlation between RFIp and RFIc was high (0.91). Meal duration (0.41), head-down duration (0.38), and meal frequency (0.26) were correlated with RFIp and accounted for 35% of the variation in DMI not explained by MBW, ADG, and ultrasound traits (RFIc). These results suggest that adjusting residual feed intake for carcass composition will facilitate selection to reduce feed intake in cattle without affecting rate or composition of gain.

published proceedings

  • J Anim Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Lancaster, P. A., Carstens, G. E., Ribeiro, F., Tedeschi, L. O., & Crews, D. H.

citation count

  • 86

complete list of authors

  • Lancaster, PA||Carstens, GE||Ribeiro, FRB||Tedeschi, LO||Crews, DH

publication date

  • April 2009