Cattle farmers are lagging behind their swine and poultry counterparts in their progress on producing efficient protein, partly due to the fragmented nature of the industry, Kerryann Kocher, CEO at Vytelle, told FeedNavigator.
She warned that this resource efficiency gap must be addressed if meat and dairy are to remain competitive choices for years to come.
“If we are to ensure the viability of milk and beef production for generations to come, it has to be sustainable and resource efficient,” she said.
Variable feed efficiency
Kocher said that from a phenotype perspective, the feed conversion ratio for the average animal in the GrowSafe database is 7.3 to 1. In the same database, less than 11% of animals had a feed conversion of 5 to 1.
“If we can just identify and select for the most efficient cattle, then we’re truly along the path of fewer pounds of forage and feed, less greenhouse gas emissions and the most sustainable use of resources,” she said.
In Kocher’s view, this has to be done at macro-level to be effective.
“This is where genetic selection can close the loop. We have seen it play out in other species – pork and poultry have done an excellent job of creating efficient protein,” she said.
As a provider of reproductive technology to the cattle industry, Vytelle is stepping up to champion the cause, says Kocher.
“We have a responsibility to elevate and advance resource efficiency as a breeding trait,” she said.
Kocher said that the newly formed Vytelle, which merges the reproductive technology expertise of Vytelle with the data acquisition and analytics capabilities of its sister company GrowSafe, is placed to do that, by converting individual animal performance data into genetic progress.
"By capturing data on individual animal feed intakes, GrowSafe’s technology can establish the most efficient phenotype. Identifying feed efficient genetics allows producers to select for feed efficiency to a much higher degree of accuracy,” explained Kocher.
Once the elite animal has been identified, the next step is to select the breeding method.
Vytelle says IVF is the fastest route, as well as being “easy on the cow” as no hormones are needed.
The beauty of linking GrowSafe’s genetic selection optimization platform with Vytelle’s hormone-free IVF technology, according to Vytelle, is that it will allow customers to shorten the interval between elite animal identification and marketing of those genetics.
“The combined capabilities of the two companies allow us to close the feedback loop between genotype and phenotype, helping beef and dairy producers to fast-forward generational advances by matching genetic traits to optimal outcomes,” said Kocher.
Breeding to perpetuate resource efficient traits in a far shorter time span than traditional methods improves producer profitability and sustainability, she added.
Both Vytelle and GrowSafe Systems are owned by UK-based Wheatsheaf Group, an investment company whose focus is on creating efficiencies in the food chain.