Gelbvieh Feed Efficiency Index Can Improve Your Profitability

Providing the best and most reliable tools for genetic evaluation to Gelbvieh and Balancer® breeders and their commercial customers is a key principle of the American Gelbvieh Association. With that goal in mind, the AGA has developed an economic selection index to measure feed efficiency.

The American Gelbvieh Association has introduced the efficiency profit index (EPI) index to aid producers in selection for more feed efficient cattle that still have acceptable amounts of gain. The EPI was developed with the assistance of Patrick Doyle, PhD, Chico State University associate professor in breeding and genetics. By selecting on this index, producers will also be selecting for more profitable cattle as a result of the economic weights in the index.

“The greatest potential for improving profitability in beef production is to improve feed efficiency. We invested in a GrowSafe® system and have tested over 1,500 individual animals for feed efficiency. We are seeing the rewards from selecting feed efficient genetics,” says Vaughn Thorstenson, Lazy TV Ranch, located at Selby, S.D.

The EPI provides marginal negative pressure on intake, while keeping gain at a constant value. By selecting on this index, producers will be able to find those animals that gain the same amount as their contemporaries while eating less.

Long-time Midland Bull Test consignor Ken Flikkema, Middle Creek Farms, Bozeman, Mont., states, “It’s not about identifying cattle that only eat less, it’s about finding the ones that eat less and gain more. By measuring feed intake of each bull on test, genetics of bulls can be compared for feed efficiency just as they are compared for growth, carcass, and other traits.”

The American Gelbvieh Association currently has intake EPDs and the EPI on more than 25,000 Gelbvieh and Balancer animals.

“The American Gelbvieh Association has a large data set of intake records thanks to several members installing their own GrowSafe systems. Increasingly, other members are utilizing central testing facilities for the collection of feed efficiency data,” said Susan Willmon, AGA director of breed improvement. “Several Gelbvieh and Balancer sires have over 50 progeny tested across multiple test locations adding to the accuracy and increased reliability of the index and component EPDs. We are excited to see the increased consideration of this economically relevant trait as members and commercial producers select genetics that will influence future generations.”

Profitability of animals in the feedlot has been typically based on the income achieved through gain and final weight, minus the cost of gain estimated from feed consumed. While gain and weight could be measured on individual animals, feed costs were attributed to animals equally across a pen. Adding the dry matter intake (DMI) component into the EPI allows for allocation of a lower cost of gain to those animals that are more efficient. Selection for a greater EPI value will result in pressure for lower DMI values, at adequate gains to insure overall profitability.

For more information regarding the efficiency profit index, visit the research EPD page on the American Gelbvieh Association website at


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