A mathematical nutrition model adequately predicts beef and dairy cow intake and biological efficiency. Academic Article uri icon


  • The beef cow-calf sector accounts for 70% of feed consumed and greenhouse gases emitted for the beef industry, but there is no straightforward method to measure biological efficiency in grazing conditions. The objective of this study was to evaluate a mathematical nutrition model to estimate the feed intake and biological efficiency of mature beef cows. Data from dams (N = 160) and their second and third progeny (312 pairs) were collected from 1953 through 1980. Individual feed intake was measured at 28-d intervals year-round for dams and during 240-d lactation for progeny. Body weights of progeny were measured at 28-d intervals from birth to weaning, and of dams at parturition and weaning each production cycle. The milk yield of dams was measured at 14-d intervals. Dam metabolizable energy intake (DMEI) and milk energy yield (MEL) of each cow were predicted using the Cattle Value Discovery System beef cow (CVDSbc) model for each parity. Biological efficiency (Mcal/kg) was computed as the ratio of observed or predicted DMEI to observed calf weaning weight (PWW). Pearson correlation coefficients were computed using corr.test function and model evaluation was performed using the epiR function in R software. Average (SD) dam weight, PWW, DMEI, and observed MEL were 527 (86) kg, 291 (47) kg, 9584 (2701) Mcal/production cycle, and 1029 (529) Mcal, respectively. Observed and predicted DMEI (r = 0.93 and 0.91), and observed and predicted MEL (r = 0.58 and 0.59) were positively correlated for progeny 2 and 3, respectively. The CVDSbc model under-predicted DMEI (mean bias [MB] = 1,12076 Mcal, 11.7% of observed value) and MEL (MB = 3025 Mcal, 2.9% of observed value). Observed and predicted progeny feed intake were not correlated (r = 0.01, P-value = 0.79). Observed and predicted biological efficiency were positively correlated (r = 0.80 and 0.80, P-value 0.05) for parity 2 and 3, respectively, and the CVDSbc model under-predicted biological efficiency by 11% (MB = 3.590.25 Mcal/kg). The CVDSbc provides reasonable predictions of feed intake and biological efficiency of mature beef cows, but further refinement of the relationship between calf feed intake and milk yield is recommended to improve predictions. Mathematical nutrition models can assist in the discovery of the biological efficiency of mature beef cows.

published proceedings

  • Transl Anim Sci

altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Lancaster, P. A., Davis, M. E., Tedeschi, L. O., Rutledge, J. J., & Cundiff, L. V.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Lancaster, Phillip A||Davis, Michael E||Tedeschi, Luis O||Rutledge, Jack J||Cundiff, Larry V

publication date

  • January 2022