The benefits of efficient feeders in the feedlot is particularly important for Wagyu in order to achieve high-quality marbling and the desired carcase traits that are characteristic of Wagyu.
A quick glance over the fence won’t tell you which animal has the most economic feed intake and the greatest carcase potential. Analysis of the amount of feed eaten and the resultant carcase traits will give a far more accurate assessment, but it takes time and data.
Net feed intake (NFI) is essentially an index that shows which animals eat more or less, to gain the same amount of weight over their tenure in the feedlot. An animal with a negative index eats less, while a positive number means it eats more than the average. Therefore, the aim is to have a negative index in order to maximise profitability for the producer and the feedlotter.
Research literature to date suggests that there is up to 10-15% variation in NFI between sires and it is moderately heritable.
A research project undertaken by the Australian Wagyu Association in conjunction with Kerwee feedlot – the Sire Progeny Net Feed Intake program– is underway to assess the variability and heritability of NFI for Wagyu cattle to test promising sires for feed efficiency and carcase quality, delivering the data directly into Wagyu BREEDPLAN analysis. This program is the most comprehensive way to compare the genetic impact of sires with the rest of the Wagyu industry.
The key to maximising the accuracy of results is to control as many variables as possible to eliminate variations between animals in the feedlot.
To that end, the program requires a minimum five steers or heifers (not a mix) per Sire, with known parentage and Wagyu content, born around the same time and entry weight into the feedlot system of between 300-380kg.
Once at Kerwee Feedlot, the animals are given a one month settling in period before transitioning into the grain-fed feedlot system.
Two pens have been set aside for the program, for a total capacity of 180 Wagyu cattle where they are fed for up to 450 days. The use of GrowSafe feed bins enables food consumption to be monitored on a daily basis.
At the completion of the 450 days, the animals are weighed and feed consumption finalised. The carcase is then assessed using Aus-Meat grading as well as data from the MIJ-30 assessment camera that is designed specifically for Wagyu. The resultant data is then included in the BREEDPLAN analysis
The Association stages three Wagyu Sire Test trials per year – usually around January, May and September.
The first intake for 2019 is now underway with testing expected to start in March or April.
Download the 2019 test dates (PDF – 33kb)
Kerwee Lotfeeders Pty Ltd
Phone: 07 4692 2277 or 0437 569 765 or send Steve an email
Australian Wagyu Association
Phone: 02 8880 7703 or 0439 368 283 or send Carel an email