Improvement of the economic position of the farm or ranch is an ongoing process for
many commercial cow-calf producers. Profitability may be enhanced by both increasing the volume of production and the value of products you sell. The reduction of production costs, and thus breakeven prices, can also improve profitability. For commercial beef producers, the implementation of technologies and breeding systems that increase the quality and volume of production and reduce input costs is essential to maintain or improve the competitive position of the operation.

Profitability is influenced by these factors concurrently. Efficiency is the proportion of outputs to inputs and is frequently used by beef producers. There are many different efficiencies that impact beef production, especially at the cow-calf level. Some of these efficiencies are observed at the individual animal level and some observed at the system or herd level. Improvement in individual animal efficiency, especially during the post-weaning growing or finishing phases, may or may not improve efficiency at the herd or system level, and may have undesirable correlated response in traits of cows.

So, why is improvement in feed efficiency important and why does the beef industry focus on it? During the growing and finishing phase of production, a 1% improvement in feed efficiency has the same economic impact as a 3% increase in rate of gain. The traits that beef producers routinely record are outputs which determine the value of product sold and not the inputs defining the cost of beef production.

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