Variation in Cattle Herds fed to Finish in North Dakota

K.F. Hoppe, V.L. Anderson, and K. Alderin

Feeding calves to finish can provide insight into breeding decisions. Calves produced from sires and dams that have the genetics for higher rates of gain may have an advantage in the feedlot. Higher rates of gain during the feeding period results in fewer days on feed or heavier carcass weights. Also higher rates of gain are associated with better feed efficiency and lower cost of gain.

Twenty five herds submitted 367 spring born calves over a three year period to be fed to finish. Weight, average daily gain, and carcass information was collected from the calves.

Means and standard errors by herd are as follows: initial weight 610.9 lbs. (standard error, SE 10.94); final weight 1244.8 lbs. (SE 10.88); average daily gain 3.28 lbs. (SE 0.038); carcass weight 752.1 lbs. (SE 7.36); Dressing Percent 60.41 (SE 0.173); Marbling Score 365.6 (SE 6.69); Quality Grade high Select; Ribeye area 13.17 square inches (SE 0.099); Backfat 0.34 inches (SE 0.012); Percent kidney, pelvic, heart fat 2.0 (SE 0.04) and Yield Grade 2.39 (SE 0.069).

Variation in average daily gain indicate a moderate difference in feedlot performance between herds. Carcass characteristics also exhibit a modest amount of variation between herds.

Since large differences in performance and carcass characteristics do exist between herds, producers with above average performing cattle should consider alternative pricing arrangements. Pricing arrangements should reward the producer and reflect the added value of superior genetics.

Affiliation of co-authors and non-CREC staff: K. Alderin, Sheridan County Extension Service.

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