Characterization of residual feed intake and relationships with performance, carcass and temperament traits in growing calves



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Texas A&M University


The objectives of this study were accomplished with two experiments in growing Bonsmara bulls (N = 68) (experiment 1), and Simmental crossbred calves (N = 132) (experiment 2). Specific objectives for experiment 1 were to characterize residual feed intake (RFI) in growing bulls, and examine relationships between RFI and performance, fertility, temperament and body composition traits. In experiment 2, the objectives were to examine stocker-phase supplementation effects on feedlot feed conversion ratio (FCR) and RFI and to characterize relationships between these feed efficiency traits, and performance and carcass traits in finishing calves. In both experiments, individual feed intakes and BW were measured. Ultrasound technology was used to measure body composition in experiment 1, while actual carcass measurements taken at harvest were used for experiment 2. Experiment 1 demonstrated that temperament affected ADG and DMI, but not FCR or RFI. Residual feed intake was not phenotypically correlated to scrotal circumference or bull fertility traits. Experiments 1 and 2 demonstrated that RFI was independent of ADG and BW, but that there was a tendency (P < 0.10) for RFI to be phenotypically correlated with 12th rib fat thickness (r = 0.20 and 0.22). However, RFI was not correlated with longissimus muscle area in either experiment. Both experiments demonstrated that low RFI (< 0.5 SD below mean RFI) calves consumed significantly (20 and 22%) less feed and had improved (21%) FCR compared to calves with high RFI (> 0.5 SD above mean RFI). Results from experiment 2 suggest that RFI measured while calves are consuming high-grain diets may be less influenced by previous level of stocker supplementation compared to FCR or residual gain efficiency traits. In summary, RFI was found to be phenotypically independent of growth rate and BW, had no effect on bull fertility or temperament traits, and was less impacted by previous plane of nutrition compared to FCR.