Efficient feed converters identified in Wagyu progeny trial

Beef Central, 25/05/2022

AWA chief executive Matt McDonagh presents the 2022 awards for feed efficiency and overall most profitable sire to Paul and Claire Harris, Sunland Cattle Co.


ANIMALS exhibiting superior feed conversion efficiency can also excel in overall profitability traits measured in the feedlot and chiller, results from the latest Australian Wagyu Association Net Feed Intake progeny trials have shown.

Results from the 2021 NFI test intake were announced during the recent AWA Wagyu Edge conference held in Melbourne.

Among the cohort of sires represented in the 2021 intake of progeny, the winner of both the highest feeding efficiency and overall profitability through the feedlot and carcase production system awards was Wagyu Genetics Itsoshigenami D8920, representing Paul Harris’s Sunland Cattle Co, Rockhampton Queensland.

In addition to topping performance for NFI, the same sire topped this year’s rankings for best overall profit outcome, based on both feedlot performance and carcase performance of progeny. The result demonstrated that superior genetics for feed efficiency and carcase performance can be identified in the same animal.

In the current climate of record high grain prices, feeding efficiency is establishing a greater sense of importance in Fullblood Wagyu breeders’ minds.

Sunland’s Paul Harris said the efficiency outcome identified in the progeny test was massively important to his business’s commercial Fullblood Wagyu operation.

Originally, the test-winning sire Wagyu Genetics Itsoshigenami D8920 was run with Sunland’s purebred Wagyu herd to produce high quality commercial Wagyu feeder calves.

“Six years ago we brought him across to run him with our Fullblood herd,” Mr Harris said.

“His results were well above average and he was identified as a superior sire within our herd. After we identified his potential, we collected semen from him and now use this semen in our AI and ET programs. Being by Itoshigenami TF148 out of Kaneyama x Michifuku cow, he is nicely bred to compliment the Fullblood females we have.”

“As Wagyu are typically fed in the feedlot for 400 days, it is imperative that net fed intake be taken into account for cost effectiveness of feed conversion to weight gain, so as to produce beef that is environmentally more sustainable, as well as decreasing the methane being emitted in production, and to be more profitable to produce,” Mr Harris said.

Big variations found in 55 sires tested so far

The Australian Wagyu Association has conducted NFI studies via progeny tests since 2018 using the Growsafe (now Vytelle) feeders at Stockyard’s Kerwee feedlot near Jondaryan on Queensland’s Darling Downs. So far, more than 1000 progeny from 55 different Wagyu sires have been tested.

The Wagyu NFI project is helping understand the opportunities to select for Wagyu genetics that will improve resource use efficiency for the Wagyu Sector in the future. The project will also contribute vital information to improve understanding surrounding genetic variability in methane production in future Wagyu research.

Analysis conducted by Dr Kirsty Moore from the Animal Genetics Breeding Unit in Armidale on the data collected in the NFI project to date, spans records from 55 different Wagyu Sires.

The analysis of NFI variation shows that the trait is heritable (can be selected for) and there is a potential variance of 2.2 kg/day NFI across the Wagyu sires tested so far. Compared with the least efficient sires, that means there are Wagyu sires whose progeny consume 2.2kg less feed per day for the same growth rate and bodyweight.

The AWA anticipates that the numbers of animals tested will double by the end of the project – presenting a limited opportunity for AWA members to have their sires tested for NFI. Using the data on progeny from the anticipated +100 sires, the AWA will be looking to test NFI EBVs for Wagyu production and understand the opportunity for Wagyu supply chains to benefit from using more efficient genetics. Better resource use efficiency, carbon footprint

AWA chief executive Dr Matt McDonagh said the findings presented a huge opportunity to significantly reduce feed costs over long feeding periods, in addition to providing opportunity for the Wagyu sector to manage resource use efficiency and its carbon footprint.

Now in its second year, the AWA’s annual Net Feed Intake Awards recognise sires which have a positive influence on their progeny in terms of NFI. The awards were presented during the 2022 WagyuEdge conference in Melbourne, attended by more than 400 delegates.

Runner-up in the highest feed efficiency award this year was Longford D12759 owned by Arthur Dew, Longford Station, Victoria.

Mr Dew has had success in this trial before, with his sire Mr Awesome having been awarded Overall Highest Profitability Sire in 2021.

“We believe these trials and competitions are a valuable tool for identifying the sires that excel in producing superior carcases at the lowest cost, and are therefore a benefit to the Wagyu industry,” he said.

“We are also pleased that our Yasufuku Jnr sired D12759 has this year followed the earlier success of Mr Awesome, which is a further vindication of our overall breeding program directed at producing the best possible carcases.”

Less feed for the same marbling score and weight

Stockyard’s genetic improvement officer Phoebe Jenkins said it was exciting to see some impressive results from the trials being implemented in breeding herds like Sunland Cattle Co, Longford Station and Trig Farm Wagyu.

“These producers and all others who enter our trial are a step closer to being able to produce cattle that potentially require less feed but achieve the same marbling and muscle size our brands are renowned for,” she said.

“Having the raw data right at their fingertips will help producers shorten the time it takes to figure out which genetics are most sustainable, so they can cut out the under-performers sooner and identify genetic lines that hit the sweet-spot of high marbling, high growth and feed efficiency.”

“That’s a huge win for not only feedlots and brand owners like Stockyard, but also producers and customers. Eventually, we can run a more efficient feedlot, our customers receive a sustainably produced, consistent product and we can share profits with producers that are excelling in this space,” Ms Jenkins said.

Stockyard has continued to invest in the NFE trial program with new software and in pen weigh cells.

“This new technology will improve the accuracy of data with less disruption to the cattle. This will mean we can determine individual feed efficiencies of any sire line without biasing results due to animal behaviour or human interaction,” she said.


2022 Highest Efficiency Sire results:

1st – Wagyu Genetics Itsoshigenami D8920 WGWFD8920, owned by Paul Harris, Sunland Cattle Co, Rockhampton QLD

2nd – Longford D12759 LFDFD12759 – Owned by Arthur Dew, Longford Station, VIC

3rd –Trig Farm Wagyu Sanjitike FF0319 TW FF0319, owned by Stanley Piggins, Trig Farm Wagyu.

2022 Overall Most Profitable sire:

Wagyu Genetics Itsoshigenami D8920 WGWFD8920, owned by Paul Harris, Sunland Cattle Co, Rockhampton.




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  1. KEVIN B LEANY, 18/07/2022

    Can I purchase semen from Itso D8920?

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