Finishing North Dakota Calves in North Dakota or Kansas - Final report

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

Cattlemen continue to evaluate retaining ownership of spring born calves through the finishing phase. Calf performance and feeding economics are major determinates of where calves are fed to finish. Since feed grains are abundant in North Dakota and usually have a lower price, a feeding project was designed to compare alternatives for finishing North Dakota born calves.

Fall weaned calves (n=367, average weight 600.0 pounds) were consigned by 25 North Dakota cattle producers over a three year period (1994-97). The calves were combined and backgrounded for an average of 50.6 days prior to the start of the finishing period.

The finishing program compared feedlot performance of steers fed in North Dakota (ND) on a corn based finishing diet (ND-corn) with steers fed in ND on a barley based finishing diet (ND-barley) and steers fed at a commercial feedyard in Kansas on a corn based finishing diet (KS-corn). Steers weight gains and feed/gain averaged 3.50, 3.28 and 3.74 pounds per day and 6.47, 6.41 and 5.80 pounds of dry matter per pound of gain for ND-corn, ND-barley, and KS-corn, respectively. Carcasses from ND-corn and KS-corn fed steers appear to be similar in fat thickness, rib eye area, yield grade, marbling score and % choice.

Three-year average feed costs were $.517, .527, and .558 per pound of gain while breakeven price, $/cwt., was 63.40, 63.09, and 64.28 for ND-corn, ND-barley, and KS-corn feeding systems, respectively. The results of these feeding system alternatives suggest that finishing North Dakota born calves in ND from October to May may have an economic advantage in lower feed cost per unit gain.

Affiliation of co-authors and non-CREC staff: H. Hughes, NDSU Livestock Production/Marketing Specialist; K. Alderin, Sheridan County Extension Service.

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