EcoFeed™ by STgenetics®

The genetic fingerprint of feed conversion and global sustainability

Emerging technologies and innovative research methodologies continue to provide dairy producers with new opportunities to improve production efficiency and therefore, profitability of their operations. One opportunity of immense interest today involves the exploration of animals who eat less feed while maintaining similar production to their herd mates. Such an animal has a superior ability to efficiently covert feed energy into useable products such as meat or milk. Given that feed accounts for the largest variable input cost of production and is inextricably tied with greenhouse gas emissions, the efficient conversion of feed energy to product directly impacts two of the most critical issues currently affecting our dairies: feed cost and sustainability. Recognizing the immense implications this area has on the future of the dairy industry, STgenetics® developed the EcoFeed™ index to help producers create progeny with superior abilities to efficiently convert feed energy into production outputs. The EcoFeed™ index is an integrated approach to genetic selection based on progeny testing of females to identify sires that produce progeny who consume less feed while maintaining production compared to their herd mates to increase profitability and global sustainability.  

In the dairy industry today, feed costs represent 51% of total dairy production costs according to the USDA. Combine that with the current volatility of feed prices and growing competition for feed as food and fuel, and you get projections estimating feed cost to represent up to 70% of total dairy production costs in the near future. With this in mind, selecting and breeding animals that produce the same amount of milk on less feed is a necessary solution. For a 1,000 cow dairy, a reduction in feed of as little as 1 pound per day per animal could translate into a savings of $36,500 per year (based on feed cost of $0.10/lb of feed).

STgenetics’ ® EcoFeed™ index is a feed conversion index created to encompass the environmental, metabolic, and genomic factors affecting dairy cattle profitability through the evaluation of sires’ progeny to rank females based on their ability to efficiently convert feed energy into product. Since the start of this program in 2014, STgenetics® has evaluated feed conversion efficiency on over 4,000 female progeny from 550 sires, making it the largest feed efficiency database of a single operation to date. A 100 base system is used to quantify a bull’s EcoFeed™ value, with every 10 points above 100 being a pound less feed on an as fed basis the bull’s progeny can be expected to consume each day while maintaining production. For example, a bull whose progeny consume 1 pound less than expected based on their body size and performance will have an EcoFeed™ value of 110. Ecofeed is a moderately heritable trait which means that producers can select for high EcoFeed™ animals with the same confidence as other economically important traits. Producers can also select for high EcoFeed™ animals while maintaining or improving other economically important traits, as EcoFeed™ is uncorrelated with traits currently utilized for selection purposes in Holstein cows.

click here for listing of  EcoFeed™ designated sires

For more information about EcoFeed™ and qualifying bulls, talk with your local STgenetics® representative or contact the company’s Dairy Call Center at (844) 828-7849 or International customers can call (920) 921-5850 or email You can also get in touch with our genetic services team at