A Nationwide Survey of Beef Producers about Feed Efficiency – Motivating Factors for the Implementation of Selection Practices Jason K. Ahola*1, Stephanie L. Kane3, J.D. Wulfhorst3, Larry D. Keenan3, and Rod A. Hill2 1Animal Sciences, Colorado State University 2Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Idaho 3Social Sciences Research Unit, University of Idaho 4Red Angus Association of America, Denton, Texas
Project Overview Component of the USDA NRI-funded project: “Evaluating the feed efficiency and end-product quality relationship in the progeny of Red Angus sires divergent for Maintenance Energy EPD” Objectives: Create progeny of Red Angus bulls divergent for Maintenance Energy (ME) EPD Characterize Red Angus bulls for feed efficiency (RFI) Determine relationship between ME EPD, RFI, and other production traits Explore physiological drivers of variation in RFI Educate producers about selection for feed efficiency
Feed Efficiency Outreach • Research Objective: • Establish baselinemeasures of producer perceptions about the perceived unique benefits and/or costs associated with feed efficiency, as well as the efficacy of outreach programs in conveying this information. • Outreach Objective: • Develop outreach materials using research results: • Field days, symposia, and popular press • Train-the-trainer events (Extension, thought leaders) • Internet-based outreach (www.eXtension.org)
University of Idaho Social Sciences Research Unit (SSRU) • Conducts surveys on: • Agricultural producers, consumers, public opinion • Baseline data, follow-up, impact, economic impact • Survey types: • Mail, telephone • Person-to-person, focus groups • Dillman method (mailed surveys) • Survey + letter, postcard (1 wk), survey + letter (2 wks) • Non-respondent subsample called (non-response bias)
Mailed Survey of Cattlemen January-February 2008 35 question booklet Stratified random sample of: Idaho Cattle Association members (n = 488) Red Angus Assn of America (RAAA) members (2,208) RAAA bull buyers (n = 5,325) – via transfers Total sample size = 1,888 902 completed & eligible surveys Overall response rate = 49.9% (ICA = 56.9%, RAAA = 49.7%, RA buyers = 45.2%)
General Survey Question Areas • Background info • Operation type (seedstock, commercial), breeds • Location, number of cows/bulls, marketing methods • Age, education, years in business • Avg. price paid for bulls, tons of feed raised/purchased • Use of genetic prediction data • Data used today, data desired • Prioritization of traits for selection • Feed-to-Gain Ratio and RFI • Knowledge of • Willingness to collect data on • Willingness to pay for
Demographic Profile Breakdown of respondents: 13% seedstock producers 59% commercial cow/calf producers 28% a combination (seedstock and commercial) Mean age = 54 years Mean number of years operating ranch = 28 yrs 46% had a college degree or higher
Regional Distribution Regions correspond to NCBA Region 1 = ME, NH, VT, MA, CN, RI, NJ, NY, PA, DE, MI, OH, IN, KY, VA, MD; Region 2 = NC, TN, SC, GA, AL, MS, LA, FL; Region 3 = MN, WI, IA, IL, MO; Region 4 = TX, OK, AR; Region 5 = WA, ID, MT, WY, CO, OR; Region 6 = CA, NV, UT, AZ, NM; Region 7 = ND, SD, NE, KS.
Ranch & Herd Characteristics Cattle inventories: 217 ± 14.8 cows 17 ± 3.3 bulls Breed types used: 78% British breeds exclusively 18% mixed herd of British and Continental 4% Cont’l only, or mix of British, Cont’l, and Indicus Average price paid per bull = $2,616 ± 55.5 Feed inputs per year: 874 ± 302.6 tons of hay harvested 64 ± 6.1 tons of hay purchased
Goals of the Survey • Document current selection priorities • Determine awareness of “feed-to-gain ratio” and/or “residual feed intake” • Initiate an evaluation into ‘willingness to pay’ for RFI data • Attempt to predict ‘willingness • to adopt’ RFI as a • production practice www.growsafe.com; www1.agric.gov.ab.ca
Genetic Prediction Info What types of genetic prediction information do you provide your buyers (seedstock) OR what type is provided to you by your seedstock supplier?
Genetic Prediction Info What types of genetic prediction information would you consider providing your buyers (seedstock) OR what type would you like to have (commercial cow/calf)?
Bull Traits Considered “Important” or “Very Important”
The “Most Important” Trait Which of those traits listed do you consider to be MOST important when purchasing or using a bull?
Predicting Awareness of RFI: Main Effects
Conclusions Producers still use (& seek) raw, ratio, & EPD data. High priority traits: Repro, disposition, calving ease, growth. Not high priority: Price, visual, milk, feed efficiency. Among all producers, ~30% of producers will pay $0/hd more for RFI data, ~40% will pay $1-200/hd, and 25% will pay >$200/hd. Among seedstock producers, 30% will pay $0 to get RFI data, ~60% will pay $1-200/hd, and 5% will pay >$200/hd. Age, years managing, and participation in meetings are drivers for RFI awareness; operation size & region are not. Substantial producer education related to understanding and selecting for feed efficiency is needed.
Acknowledgements: Red Angus Association of America Idaho Cattle Association USDA National Research Initiative (aka AFRI) Grant no. 2008-55206-18812 from CSREES National Science Foundation & Idaho EPSCoR Award no. EPS 0447689 Jason K. Ahola, Ph.D. Beef Production Systems Colorado State University (970) 491-3312 firstname.lastname@example.org