Performance and carcass traits of early-weaned steers receiving either a pasture growing period or a finishing diet at weaning

S. E. Myers, D. B. Faulkner, T. G. Nash, L. L. Berger, D. F. Parrett, F. K. McKeith

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    54 Scopus citations


    A 2-yr study was conducted to evaluate 1) steers fed ad libitum high concentrate after weaning (CONC), or 2) steers grown on pasture for 82 d, followed by high-concentrate finishing (PAST), on the performance and carcass traits of 74 early-weaned (117 d of age) steers. Potential breed differences were evaluated using crossbred steers of three types: 1) 3/4 Angus × 1/4 Simmental (BRI), 2) 3/4 Simmental × 1/4 Angus (CON), and 3) 1/2 Wagyu × 1/4 Angus × 1/4 Simmental (WAG). Steers were randomly assigned within breed to the two treatments. There was no interactions (P > .10), so the data were pooled over years. The CONC steers had an ADG that was .17 kg/d higher (P = .0001), intake 1.09 kg/d lower (P = .0001), and gain:feed ratio .013 unit better (.190 vs .177, P = .008) than PAST steers overall. Growing treatment did not affect total concentrate consumed (P = .97). The BRI steers required 31 d less than did CON steers (P = .008), and 23 d less than WAG steers (P = .05) when fed to a constant fat end point (1.1 cm). The BRI steers exhibited an ADG .16 kg/d higher (P = .0003), tended (P = .07) to have an ADG intake .49 kg/d higher, and exhibited gain:feed .01 unit better (.189 vs 180) than WAG steers. When compared with CON steers, BRI steers consumed 310 kg less total concentrate (P = .0003). No differences (P > .38) were observed between growing treatments for carcass characteristics or sensory attributes except that CONC steers tended (P = .11) to improve percentage of steers grading Average Choice or higher by 47% over PAST steers. The WAG steers had a 76-unit higher marbling score (1,000 = Small00, 1,100 = Modest00) (P = .006) than BRI steers, resulting in 19% more (P = .09) steers grading ≥ Choice and 82% more (P = .03) grading ≥ Average Choice. Liver (P = .15) and rumen (P = .01) weights as a percentage of hot carcass weight were reduced for CONC steers. The CONC steers had higher gain, lower intake, better efficiency, reduced liver and rumen weights, and consumed the same amount of total concentrate when compared with PAST steers. The BRI steers had less finishing days and lower daily intake compared with CON steers. The WAG steers had more days finishing, lower gain, lower intake, more undesirable efficiencies, consumed the same amount of total concentrate, and improved quality grades compared with BRI steers.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)311-322
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of animal science
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Feb 1999


    • Beef cattle
    • Pastures
    • Weaning

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Food Science
    • Animal Science and Zoology
    • Genetics


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