Effects of increasing crude protein concentrations on performance and carcass characteristics of growing and finishing steers and heifers

C. R. Bailey, G. C. Duff, S.R.Sanders, J. L. Treichel, L. H. Baumgard, J. A. Marchello, D. W. Schafer, C. P. McMurphy

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13 Scopus citations


A 2 × 3 factorial design was utilized to ascertain the effects of three dietary crude protein (CP) concentrations on performance, carcass characteristics, and serum urea nitrogen (SUN) concentration in steers and heifers. Animals were blocked by gender (n = 9) and body weight (BW; n = 3/gender), randomly assigned to a diet containing 110, 125 or 140 g/kg dietary CP (n = 6), subjected to a growing period of 56, 84 or 112 d, depending on start BW, and a finishing period of 84 d. Animals were weighed and bled at 28 d intervals and daily dry matter intake (DMI), average daily gain (ADG), and gain to feed (G:F) were calculated and SUN was analyzed as a repeated measure throughout the study. Following slaughter, carcass data was collected for hot carcass weight (HCW), dressing percent (DP), kidney, pelvic and heart fat (KPH), 12th rib backfat (BF), loin muscle (LM) area, marbling score (MS), and yield grade (YG). Growing steers and heifers were programmed to gain 1.02 and 0.91 kg/d, respectively. Therefore, heifers consumed less than steers and steers gained more than heifers (P<0.01) with no differences in feed efficiency. Dietary CP treatment did not effect DMI, but did result in a quadratic (P=0.04) increase in ADG; thereby quadratically (P=0.06) and linearly (P=0.08) increasing final BW, and G:F, respectively. Finishing heifers consumed and gained less than steers (P<0.01), had lighter HCW (P<0.01) and greater DP (P=0.01) and LM area (P=0.01) than steers. DMI (P=0.02), ADG (P=0.05), HCW (P=0.08), and DP (P=0.06) reacted quadratically with increasing dietary CP. HCW (P=0.02) increased linearly with increasing dietary CP. G:F, KPH, BF, LM area, MS and YG was not affected by dietary CP concentration and G:F, KPH, BF, MS, and YG did not differ between genders. However, there was a gender × dietary CP interaction (P=0.01) for G:F. Steers were the most efficient at 125 g/kg dietary CP, while heifers were most efficient at 140 g/kg dietary CP. Gender had no effect on SUN concentrations, but SUN increased linearly (P<0.01) with increasing dietary CP concentrations. In conclusion, quadratic responses in DMI and ADG indicate that a 125 g/kg dietary CP concentration is optimal for either steers or heifers during the finishing period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-120
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Feed Science and Technology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2008


  • Beef cattle
  • Dietary CP
  • Gender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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