In 2020, Meadow Quality installed the first Intergado® feeding system in Europe. We are trialling this technology in our ongoing pursuit of feed efficient weight gain and full-lifecycle production monitoring of cattle. It is the first time this system has been installed outside South America.
The trial currently consists of 200 cattle, housed at a MQ partner site in Herefordshire. A further 400 cattle will join the trial over the coming months. This will provide a total of around 1,000 cattle being tested, annually, on feed efficiency trials across two Meadow Quality sites.
The trial will allow us to accurately measure the performance of sires from the early life of each calf, through the rearing phase, and eventually onto finish. Highlighting efficiencies across progeny from all stages of life will benefit all Meadow Quality customers who buy reared calves, by ensuring the most productive sires and bloodlines are being sought in the future breeding of beef x dairy genetics. To ensure best practice in identifying sires, each calf is DNA tested for parent identification and verification.
Meadow Quality trials are held under commercial farming conditions. The exposure to issues faced by many farmers ensures that the trial yields reliable and applicable results. This trial, alongside our other projects, will identify the most feed-efficient bloodlines, thus providing benefits to all beef producers buying Meadow Quality reared calves, now and in the future.
Individuals animals are identified via EID tags as they are scanned onto the system. Each day, this software captures the feed and water intakes from individual animals for the time they are on the Intergado® trial. The system’s frequent recordings offer high specificity and yields accurate data for close monitoring of animals’ development.
As each animal enters the drinking station, their body weight is taken via weight cells fitted within the system and is monitored daily. The separate feed bunkers, also on weigh cells, measure the number of visits daily each animal makes to the feed station, as well as its individual feed intake. All measurements are then collated over a 2-month period to produce an accurate picture of intakes, growth rates and feed conversion efficiency.
Feed & Water
Fresh water is imperative for maintaining healthy cattle. The Intergado® feed system has a 100-litre water capacity. The water is refreshed regularly each day, ensuring access to fresh, clean water for the cattle. LED lights have been installed above the water bunkers.
Although we are just a few weeks into the trial, there are already benefits of the LED lighting, as by fitting time-lapse cameras to the pens, we can observe that cattle are drinking throughout the night as well as the day.
Cattle are fed ad-lib and feed is weighed and measured into the bunkers twice daily to ensure cattle have regular fresh feed in front of them throughout the day.
Although still in the early stages of this trial, our initial observations are exciting and our expert team look forward to publishing further findings as we move through the research.