EcoFeed®cow – The Next Level of Evidence for Feed Savings

STgenetics®, the global leader in genetics and evidence-based technology, has raised the bar in the dairy industry once again. Dairy farmers can now choose how much they want to save on feed costs with genetics from heifers and cows.

With the STgenetics® way of changing the world, EcoFeed® has moved farming forward both in terms of sustainability and profitability, by showing that genetics control how much feed is necessary to produce each pound of milk and components. Backed by massive data collection from 8 years at the most extensive dairy genetics Research Center (STgenetics® Ohio Heifer Center), STgenetics® is proud to introduce the next level of evidence for feed savings on farm: EcoFeed®heifer and EcoFeed®cow.

What is EcoFeed®?

Starting in 2014, STgenetics® launched an intensive research project for Feed Conversion Efficiency in several thousand growing dairy heifers from current genetic populations. Years later and continuously compiling a massive phenotypic database, the results were surprisingly impressive: Feed Conversion Efficiency is not correlated with any other genetic trait or global genetic index, leading to the establishment of the EcoFeed® index, the first direct index in the dairy industry to record genetic gains for Feed Conversion Efficiency. With subsequent genotypic modeling by Vision+™, STgenetics® enabled accurate genomic predictions to associate individual genetics with EcoFeed®’s Feed Conversion Efficiency.

The first genomic evidence for EcoFeed®heifer was released in 2017 and since then, over 750,000 females have received EcoFeed® evaluations at Genetic Visions-ST™. The next challenge and goal was to expand and include EcoFeed® research on lactating cows and Beef on Dairy calves. Today, a total of 866 Holstein sires have been progeny-tested for EcoFeed®heifer and 242 sires progeny-tested for EcoFeed®cow, making EcoFeed® one of the largest Feed Conversion Efficiency database in the world.

With this research expansion, STgenetics® has successfully created EcoFeed®heifer and EcoFeed®cow, allowing dairy farmers to more accurately reduce costs and improve their herd sustainability.

 How to utilize EcoFeed®heifer and EcoFeed®cow in breeding decisions?

EcoFeed®heifer predicts the Feed Conversion Efficiency of heifers in the growing or rearing phase of life while EcoFeed®cow predicts the Feed Conversion Efficiency of a cow during her lactations. When selecting dairy replacements, it is important to identify genetics with ideal production, reproductive and health traits while considering superior scores for lifetime Feed Conversion.

The EcoFeed®heifer and EcoFeed®cow indexes are positively correlated, which means selecting for either index will not negatively impact the other index. The EcoFeed®heifer index can range from 77 to 123 while the EcoFeed®cow index can range from 46 to 157. The difference in range between these two indexes simply reflects that cows consume about twice as much feed per day as heifers, so there is more variation in their feed intake.

“Being the first to bring two different Feed Conversion indexes, one for heifers and one for cows, to our customers is something we always said we would do. I am extremely proud of the team behind EcoFeed® and the reliability this will bring to dairy breeders across the globe. Together we can push the needle forward and make our industry a more sustainable and environmentally positive place all while focusing on profitability,” states STgenetics® CEO Juan Moreno.

STgenetics®’ Holstein bulls now include an evaluation for EcoFeed®heifer and EcoFeed®cow, to assist dairy farmers in identifying bulls that meet their goals for production, health, reproductive and type traits along with Feed Conversion Efficiency during the growing period and in lactation. Progeny of high EcoFeed® bulls will consume less feed than their inefficient counterparts while maintaining productivity.

All females genomic tested at Genetic Visions-ST™ will receive an EcoFeed®heifer and EcoFeed®cow evaluation. Every 10 points of EcoFeed® represents 1 pound of dry matter (DM) saved per day. This means that a female with a score of 120 is expected to consume 3 pounds (DM) less per day than a female with an EcoFeed® score of 90.

EcoFeed®plus = EcoFeed®heifer + EcoFeed®cow

In addition to the new EcoFeed®heifer and EcoFeed®cow traits individually allowing dairy farmers to aim for Feed Conversion Efficiency of their growing heifers and/or milking cows, STgenetics® is making breeding decisions even easier by designating the EcoFeed®plus label. EcoFeed®plus sires combine both the EcoFeed®cow and EcoFeed®heifer traits to enable the highest farm profitability based on feed cost savings over the lifetime of an animal.