cows in pasture
Efficiency at Green Garden Means a lot of different things.

For us efficiency includes intake(DMI), feed conversion(RADG, F:G, RFI), growth(ADG, CW, RE, $B), and maintenance($EN, MW), all of these things factor into efficiency in a cow herd.
    One of the first things we ask new customers is "What are your goals with your cow herd?" This can give us a direction to provide our customer with the best product for them.

What does Efficiency mean for you?

    With all the new EPDs and Indexes, it can be hard to pinpoint what efficiency means for you as a producer. Do you want cows that produce well and don’t eat a lot?  Do you want calves that will finish faster with less feed and high quality grade?  Do you have harsh conditions that need more rugged individuals? Do you have an abundance of forage that need high quality early finishing cattle?

    Currently Green Garden has the #1 and #2 DMI current sires of the breed. Some people say "Great, but doesn’t that just mean they are smaller cattle?" That all depends on how efficiently they convert what they eat.
Gardens Pay Back is #1 of current Angus for DMI with -1.54, and he also has an RADG of +.31 putting him in the top 3% of the breed. That means that he doesn’t eat much, but what he does eat he converts into pounds He was one of the first animals we put through feed test in Iowa. Pay Back ate 18lbs of feed a day and gained 5.29 lbs/day while on test with an adjusted yearling weight of 1215, while Gardens Image M01 ate 32 pounds of feed and gained 5.01 pounds per day and weighed 1230 at yearling. Pay Back made us sit up and take notice, if we could consistently produce cattle that eat 5 to 15 pounds of feed a day less and still have the same amount of gain, that would be a huge economic benefit to our customers. His sire Gardens Tsunami I36 is the #2 DMI bull of the breed, his ADG was 4.64 and his adjusted yearling weight was 1315. These animals are not scrawny, non-performing cattle, they are simply extremely efficient, while keeping mature size in check. They are not the biggest animals, but they are by no means the smallest. This is where we think the industry is heading, especially with the blowback we are starting to see from packing plants about carcass size.

    In 2010, while visiting with friends at the American Angus Association annual meeting, the importance of feed efficiency in the livestock was discussed. Those conversations spurred us to find a test station to see how the Green Garden herd was stacking up to otherrs in the Angus industry.  We sent 25 bulls out of 5 different sires to the Hays Beef Development Center in Iowa, to find out who was eating how much and who was converying well. The results of that 1st test showed a significant difference in individual data, some of the animals that we assumed would do well ended up at the bottom of the list. The lowest DMI (Dry Matter Intake) was 19.0 and the highest was 29.7, from a feed cost point of view that is a huge difference.

    We continued testing bulls in Iowa for the next 3 years, 25 in the spring and 25 in the fall, and continued to see a wide spread from the highest and lowest intake animals. Additional feed efficiency studies led us to consider testing our young females as well as bulls.  So in 2013, we installed our own GrowSafe system, now we can test all of our young animals without having to pick and choose who we think will do well. Our replacement females are selected from the top 1/3 for a combination of DMI and ADG, along with our stringent carcass requirements. We are seeing a directional change in our program using the information from the GrowSafe System, and look forward to seeing how we can keep improving our product for our customers.