In typical beef cattle production systems, the breeding herd accounts for 65-85% of the total feed requirements (Ferrell and Jenkins, 1984 ; Montaldo-Bermudez et al., 1990) and 65-75% of this is used for maintenance. Primarily, the very large maintenance requirement is because cattle are a large, slowly maturing species with a low annual reproductive rate. Furthermore, only a single product is harvested (meat). Any improvement in the efficiency with which breeding cows maintain body weight, will result in an increase in total meat production for a given amount of feed. 

W. S Pitchford, M. L Fenton, A. Kister, C. DK Bottema

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 2002. Session 10, , 10.15, 2002
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