Effect of live weight gain of steers during winter grazing: I. Feedlot performance, carcass characteristics, and body composition of beef steers

Hersom, M.J.; Horn, G.W.; Krehbiel, C.R.; Phillips, W.A.

Journal of Animal Science 82(1): 262-272


ISSN/ISBN: 0021-8812
PMID: 14753370
DOI: 10.2527/2004.821262x
Accession: 004123628

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Two experiments were conducted to examine the effect of previous BW gain during winter grazing on subsequent growth, carcass characteristics, and change in body composition during the feedlot finishing phase. In each experiment, 48 fall-weaned Angus Angus-Hereford steer calves were assigned randomly to one of three treatments: 1) high rate of BW gain grazing winter wheat (HGW), 2) low rate of BW gain grazing winter wheat (LGW), or 3) grazing dormant tallgrass native range (NR) supplemented with 0.91 kg/d of cottonseed meal. Winter grazing ADG (kg/d) for HGW, LGW, and NR steers were, respectively, 1.31, 0.54, 0.16 (Exp. 1) and 1.10, 0.68, 0.15 (Exp. 2). At the end of winter grazing, four steers were selected randomly from each treatment to measure initial carcass characteristics and chemical composition of carcass, offal, and empty body. All remaining steers were fed a high-concentrate diet to a common backfat end point. Six steers were selected randomly from each treatment for final chemical composition, and carcass characteristics were measured on all steers. Initial fat mass and proportion in carcass, offal, and empty body were greatest (P < 0.001) for HGW, intermediate for LGW, and least for NR steers in both experiments. Live BW ADG and gain efficiency during the finishing phase did not differ (P = 0.24) among treatments, but DMI (% of mean BW) for NR and LGW was greater (P < 0.003) than for HGW steers. Final empty-body composition did not differ (P = 0.25) among treatments in Exp. 1. In Exp. 2, final carcass and empty-body fat proportion (g/kg) was greater (P < 0.03) for LGW and NR than for HGW steers. Accretion of carcass fat-free organic matter was greater (P < 0.004) for LGW than for HGW and NR steers in Exp. 1, but did not differ (P = 0.22) among treatments in Exp. 2. Fat accretion in carcass, offal, and empty body did not differ (P = 0.19) among treatments in Exp. 1, but was greater (P < 0.05) for LGW and NR than for HGW steers in Exp. 2. Heat production by NR steers during finishing was greater (P < 0.02) than by HGW steers in Exp. 1 and 2. Differences in ADG during winter grazing and initial body fat content did not affect rate of live BW gain or gain efficiency during finishing. Feeding steers to a common backfat thickness end point mitigated initial differences in carcass and empty-body fat content. However, maintenance energy requirements during finishing were increased for nutritionally restricted steers that were wintered on dormant native range. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.