Effect of source and amount of energy and rate of growth in the growing phase on performance and carcass characteristics of early- and normal-weaned steers

J. P. Schoonmaker, M. J. Cecava, F. L. Fluharty, H. N. Zerby, S. C. Loerch

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48 Scopus citations


One hundred eighty-four Angus x Simmental steers (initial BW 161.7 ± 3.4 kg) were used to determine whether different sources and amounts of energy in the growing phase could extend the growth curve and maintain high amounts of intramuscular fat deposition in early-weaned steers. Steers were allotted by source, age, and BW to one of four growing-phase (119 to 259 d of age) regimens. For three regimens, steers were weaned at 119 d of age and either 1) fed (DM basis) a 50% grain diet ad libitum (ALC); 2) limitfed a 70% grain diet to achieve a gain of 0.8 kg/d from 119 to 192 d of age, and 1.2 kg/d from 193 to 259 d of age (LFC); or 3) fed a 60% haylage diet ad libitum from 119 to 192 d of age, and a 25% haylage diet ad libitum from 193 to 259 d of age (ALF). For the fourth regimen, steers were normal-weaned at 204 d of age and fed a silage diet from 205 to 259 d of age (NW). From 260 d of age to slaughter, all steers consumed a 70% grain (DM basis) diet. Limit-fed and ALF steers spent the most, and NW the least amount of time (P < 0.01) in the feedlot to achieve a target fat depth of 1.27 cm. Ad libitum-fed steers were the youngest (331 d), and NW the oldest (383 d) at slaughter (P < 0.01). Overall ADG was greatest for ALC and least for NW steers (P < 0.01). Overall, ALF steers consumed the most DM (P < 0.01). While in the feedlot, LFC and ALC steers were more efficient in converting feed to BW gain (P < 0.01) than ALF and NW steers. Normal-weaned had the least and ALC the greatest (P < 0.01) fat depth at 260 d of age. Consequently, NW steers produced the heaviest, and ALC the lightest (P < 0.01) carcasses at slaughter. Normal-weaned steers had the largest, and ALC and LFC steers had the smallest longissimus muscle area (P < 0.06). Growing phase dietary treatments did not affect (P > 0.20) yield grade. Marbling score did not differ (P > 0.35), but laboratory analysis revealed that ALC steers had the lowest percentage of fat (P < 0.02) in the longissimus muscle. Shear force was greatest (P < 0.08) for steaks from ALC and LFC steers, and least for steaks from ALF and NW steers. Feeding steers the ALC diet from 119 to 260 d of age hastened physiological maturity, decreased marbling scores, and decreased muscle tenderness compared with forage feeding (ALF, NW). Limit-feeding a high-grain diet also hastened physiological maturity and decreased muscle tenderness but did not decrease marbling scores. Source and amount of energy affected partitioning of fat deposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-282
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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