North Dakota State University * Dickinson Research Extension Center
1133 State Avenue, Dickinson, ND 58601 Voice: (701) 483-2348 FAX: (701) 483-2005


COMPARISON OF BEEF AND DAIRY STEERS ON SELF FED FINISHING RATIONS

There is a difference of opinion among livestockmen as to how dairy bred steers compare with beef steers in the feedlot. Cattle feeders have reported that under some conditions rate of gain and feed efficiency is less with dairy bred steers than with beef steers fattened under the same conditions. This trial was initiated at the request of cattle feeders and the North Dakota Milk Producers Association to compare beef and dairy bred steers with respect to the management steps required to produce acceptable carcass grades, and, to compare feed requirements and returns realized for both types of steers.

Beef calves weighing 457 pounds and Holstein calves averaging 470 pounds were allotted to the trial, beginning on January 21, 1974. After a warm up period, a self-fed ration of 75% oats, 20% tame hay, 5% alfalfa, di-cal and salt was fed throughout the backgrounding phase. For the finishing phase, grain in the ration was 60% barley and 40% oats.

On November 5, when the beef steers reached an average slaughter weight of 1050 to 1100 pounds they were sold on a grade and yield basis along with a random selection of half the dairy bred steers. The remaining half of the dairy bred steers were continued on feed to determine the feed requirements necessary to get them to high good and low choice grades comparable to the beef steers. These were sold for slaughter on January 28, 1975. Data from the first year's trial are summarized in tables 29 and 30.

Table 29 - Average feed consumption and feed cost/cwt gain for beef bred and dairy bred steers in the feedlot, January 21 - November 51
  Beef steers Dairy steers
Avg. feed consumption
Oats lbs. 10.0 9.4
Barley lbs. 3.69 4.36
Tame hay lbs. 4.44 4.35
Alfalfa, lb. 0.96 0.95
Di-cal, lb. 0.01 0.09
Salt, lb. 0.38 0.38
Total/head/day, lbs. 19.6 19.6
Feed/lb. gain, lbs. 9.0 9.4
Feed cost/cwt gain, $ 36.66 39.02
1Figures represent average feed consumption and should not be considered as fed daily. For example, barely was fed only from May 2 - November 4.

 

Table 30 - Weights, gains and return for beef bred and dairy bred steers in the feedlot, 1974
  Beef steers Dairy steers

Date sold

Nov. 5, 1974 Nov. 5, 1974 Jan. 28, 1975
Initial wt., lbs. 457 470 464
Final wt., lbs. 1104 1071 1160
Gain, lbs. 647 601 696
Days fed 288 288 372
Avg. daily gain, lbs. 2.25 2.09 1.87
Avg. carcass wt. lbs. 659 623 663
Dressing % 59.6 57.3 56.6
Avg. carcass value, $ 378.23 347.35 349.18
Initial cost, $
@ $45.80/cwt   215 213
@ $58.20/cwt 266    
Feed cost/hd, $ 222 235 332
Total cost, $ 488 450 545
Loss - Carcass value less feed cost and initial cost of calf. -109.77 -102.65 -195.95
Beef steers graded 6 choice, 4 good; Dairy steers sold Nov. 5 graded 1 choice, 1 good, 3 low good, 2 standard; Dairy steers sold Jan. 28 graded 2 choice, 1 good, 4 low good.

The trial is being repeated in 1975, with 410 pound beef steers and 407 pound dairy bred steers, beginning on December 3, 1974. These steers, fed the same basic ration as was used the previous year, were sold for slaughter October 28, 1975, except for seven head which will again be continued on feed. Data from the 1975 trial for steers sold on October 28 are shown in table 31.

Summary: When the carcass value is balanced against the feed costs and initial cost of the calf, the appreciably higher initial cost in 1974 resulted in a net loss of over $100.00 for both beef and dairy bred steers, as compared to a net gain of $80.00 to $90.00 for 1975.

Loss of feed efficiency for the steers fed the additional 84 days, to January 28, resulted in a greatly increased feed cost per head, with a correspondingly greater net loss.

Table 31 - Weights, gains and return for beef bred dairy bred steers in the feedlot, 1975
  Beef steers Dairy steers

Date sold

Oct. 28, 1975 Oct. 28, 1975
Initial wt., lbs. 410 407
Final wt., lbs. 1076 1118
Gain, lbs. 666 711
Days fed 329 329
Avg. daily gain, lbs 2.02 2.16
Avg. carcass wt., lbs. 629 650
Dressing % 58.7 58.3
Avg. carcass value, $ 442.82 430.74
Initial cost - $
@ $17.60/cwt   71.63
@ $30.00/cwt 118.80  
Feed cost/hd., $ 243.62 269.48
Total cost 362.42 341.11
Net $ - Carcass value less feed cost and initial cost of calf 80.40 89.63
Ten beef steers graded 1 prime, 1 high choice, 5 choice and 3 good. Six dairy steers graded 2 choice and 4 low good.

WINTERING REPLACEMENT HEIFER CALVES

Heifer replacement calves can be wintered to gain from 1.25 to 1.50 pounds per head per day without becoming over conditioned according to research conducted at the U.S. Range Livestock Station, Miles City, Montana, South Dakota State University's Antelope Range Field Station, and the Dickinson Experiment Station. Heifer calves fed to gain at this rate will produce good, economical gains and will be cycling early in the breeding season.

Straightbred Hereford heifer calves were wintered a total of 155 days, November 19 to May 7, in this trial under two feeding regimens. Two lots of 12 head each, received a self-fed mixed growing ration and one lot of 8 head was hand-fed. All three lots were provided with pole barn shelters and automatic waterers. The heifers were bedded with straw on a routine basis.

The self-fed balanced rations were prepared through a portable mixer grinder and fed in self feeders of Dickinson Experiment Station design and construction. Weights and gains of the heifers in drylot are shown in table 32; rations as they were fed daily are shown in table 33; and wintering data for the three year period 1973-75 are summarized in table 34.

Table 32 - Weights and gains in drylot under two feeding systems
  Self-fed Self-fed Hand-fed
Number head 11 12 8
Days fed 155 155 155
Initial wt., lbs. 454 455 459
Final wt., lbs. 722 710 656
Gain, lbs. 268 255 196
Avg. daily gain, lbs. 1.46 1.64 1.26

Summary: Wintering straightbred Hereford replacement calves to gain 1.25 to 1.50 pounds per head per day with self-fed mixed balanced rations has been very successful. Heifer weight gains have been economical and sufficient to promote estrus cycling early in the breeding season. The self-fed mixed ration (75% tame hay, 25% oats and minerals) has produced good steady gains without evidence of over consumption or bloating problems.

Table 33 - Average feed consumed daily and cost of gain - 1975
Ration ingredients Feeding Systems
Self-fed Self-fed Hand-fed
No. head 11 12 8
Oats, lbs. 3.64 3.27 3.77
Tame hay, lbs. 13.70 12.28 7.82
Alfalfa hay, lbs. .89 .80 2.01
Minerals, lb. .45 .40 .20
Total consumed, lbs. 18.69 16.75 13.80
Feed cost/hd., $ 87.66 78.56 64.57
Feed cost/hd./day, $ .52 .47 .38
Feed cost/cwt gain, $ 32.71 30.81 32.94

 

Table 34 - Feed consumption, gain and cost of wintering heifers, self-fed and hand-fed - 1973-75
  Hand-fed Self-fed
1973 1974 1975 1973 1974 1975
No. head 12 12 8 12 12 23
Days fed 168 181 155 168 181 155
Initial wt., lbs. 410 417 459 408 417 455
Spring wt., lbs. 588 660 656 650 700 716
Winter gain, lbs. 178 243 196 241 284 262
Avg. daily gain, lbs. 1.06 1.34 1.26 1.44 1.57 1.55
Lbs. feed/hd./day 13.1 17.2 13.8 14.8 14.0 17.8
Feed cost/hd./$ 33.02 79.47 64.57 34.29 67.46 83.11
Feed cost/hd./day, 19.6 43.9 38.4 20.4 37.3 49.5
Feed cost/cwt gain, $ 18.50 28.01 32.94 14.20 23.78 31.76

Half of the heifers in this trial were vaccinated by a local veterinarian for brucellosis with strain 19 organisms on November 29 and the remainder were vaccinated on January 1. Brucellosis vaccinations, administered either early or late have had no significant adverse effect on heifer weight gains, after two winterings, as shown in table 35.

Table 35 - Effects of Brucellosis vaccination on winter gain
  Date Vaccinated
11-21-73 1-14-74 11-29-74 1-28-75
No. head 16 16 16 15
Avg. wt. Gain/hd
(Nov. 1 to Dec. 18), lbs. 68 76    
(Nov. 19 to Dec. 26), lbs.     35 36
Avg. wt. Gain/hd.
(Nov. 1 to Feb. 14), lbs. 136 1511    
(Nov. 19 to Feb. 24), lbs.     127 121
Total wt. Gain/hd.
(Nov. 1 to May 1), lbs. 221 283    
(Nov. 19 to May 7), lbs.     247 239
1Significant at 5% level.

On May 7 all heifers were removed from drylot and turned out on crested wheatgrass pasture until June 3, when they were moved to native grass pasture. Fertile bulls were turned out with the heifers on May 7 and were removed on July 8. On October 7 all heifers were weighed and removed from summer pasture. Their pasture gains are summarized in table 36.

Table 36 - Performance on grass, May 7 to October 1
  Self-fed Self-fed Hand-fed
No. head 11 12 8
Days on grass 135 135 135
Initial wt., lbs. 722 710 656
Final wt., lbs. 853 850 842
Gain on pasture, lbs. 131 140 186
Avg. daily gain, lbs. 0.97 1.04 1.34

Animals making slower gains in the feedlot made more rapid gains on pasture, and final weights at the end of the pasture season were nearly equal for both feeding systems.


Back to 1975 Research Reports Table of Contents
Back to Research Reports
Back to Dickinson Research Extension Center
(http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/dickinso/)
Email: drec@ndsuext.nodak.edu