Strategies to improve the efficiency of beef cattle production

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Source: Canadian Journal of Animal Science

AuthorsStephanie A. TerryJohn A. BasarabLe Luo Guan, and Tim A. McAllister 

Abstract

Globally, there are approximately one billion beef cattle, and compared with poultry and swine, beef cattle have the poorest conversion efficiency of feed to meat. However, these metrics fail to consider that beef cattle produce high-quality protein from feeds that are unsuitable for other livestock species. Strategies to improve the efficiency of beef cattle are focusing on operational and breeding management, host genetics, functional efficiency of rumen and respiratory microbiomes, and the structure and composition of feed. These strategies must also consider the health and immunity of the herd as well as the need for beef cattle to thrive in a changing environment. Genotyping can identify hybrid vigor with positive consequences for animal health, productivity, and environmental adaptability. The role of microbiome–host interactions is key in efficient nutrient digestion and host health. Microbial markers and gene expression patterns within the rumen microbiome are being used to identify hosts that are efficient at fibre digestion. Plant breeding and processing are optimizing the feed value of both forages and concentrates. Strategies to improve the efficiency of cattle production are a prerequisite for the sustainable intensification needed to satisfy the future demand for beef.
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