My answer, without any doubt, would be: Ultra High Density Grazing.
The principles involved as well as the consequences have forced us to look at our relationship with Nature through different eyes:
- Soil health is critical for life.
- Livestock are critical for soil management.
- The appropriate genotype is determined by environment and not man.
- At the micro level genetic diversity needs to be small. At the macro level genetic diversity needs to be high.
- Diversity of life needs to be extremely high.
- In terms of breeding and management we have to concern ourselves more with the bigger picture and less with detail.
- Learning comes from observing.
These are biological facts pertaining to growth:
- The faster an individual gains weight the more efficient the growth. This is determined by the total maintenance requirement relative to daily feed intake. At a growth rate of 0.1 kg / day 10!days of non productive maintenance is required to accumulate 1 kg gain. At a gain of 1.0 kg / day only 1 day’s maintenance is required. Management allowing a high daily intake / daily gain is essential. This is where supplemental feeding can be extremely effective / profitable.
- At the same growth rate smaller animals are much more efficient than larger animals.
- In order to be equally efficient animals have to grow in direct proportion to their size. Considering that frame size in any herd can vary by approximately 30 pc that means that the larger animals will have to grow 30 pc faster or weigh 30 pc more at any age.
- Although animals have to grow in proportion to their size, they can not eat in priory to their size. Small frame animals, on average, are much more efficient and fatter than large frame animals. In cows this means that smaller cows are more fertile.
The above biological facts mean that we have to use relative growth and not absolute growth as a measure of grass conversion efficiency. All the conventional measures of growth / efficiency are genetically negatively correlated to Inherent Body Condition. All we are achieving with conventional selection is the breeding of animals that require improved nutrition in order to be “productive”.
We need to select for fullness of package / 12 month maturity.