Performance and Carcass Traits of Market Beef Cattle
Supplemented Self-Fed Byproducts on Pasture: A Progress
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Over a two year period (2007 and 2008), 162 head of beef steers were finished with self-fed byproducts on cool season grass pastures. Yearling steers were continuously grazed at the Neely-Kinyon Farm in southwest Iowa on cool season grasses that were predominantly fescue at a stocking density of 2.25 head/acre. Half of the cattle were implanted (with Synovex®-S) or and half were not. Cattle received a diet of either soyhulls-dried distillers grain with solubles or corn-dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) that was offered as a meal through self-feeders. The rations were mixed in at 1:1 with a mineral balancer that included Rumensin®.
Live cattle performance and carcass traits were not affected by diet. Implanted cattle outgained non-implanted over the entire finishing period (3.52 lbs/d vs. 3.17 lbs/d). This led to implanted cattle coming off test heavier (1324 lbs vs. 1277 lbs) and railing with heavier carcasses (826 lbs vs. 800 lbs). Ribeye areas were greater (13.1 in 2 vs. 12.7 in 2 ) for implanted cattle; which was probably due to the heavier carcass weights. Non-implanted cattle had superior quality grades (55% vs. 40%) of low choice or better.
Year differences in quality grade (1023 vs. 985 in 2007 and 2008, respectively) were observed. This difference was attributed to factors that include genetic makeup of cattle, initial weights of cattle, time of year when cattle were harvested and grading technology.
In conclusion, pasture rearing cattle, when given access to self-fed by-products, provides for excellent performance on both live performance and carcass traits. Some considerations should be made by the feeder in regards to time of year when marketing cattle and the cattle’s genetics. This system is an alternative to high-grain conventional beef finishing production in feedlots.