Effects of feeding strategy and age on live animal performance, carcass characteristics, and economics of short-term feeding programs for culled beef cows. | Academic Article individual record

To evaluate production and economic effects of feeding management strategy and age on intensively managed culled beef cows, a study was conducted using 125 cows of British breeding blocked by age (Young = 3 and 4 yr olds; LowMid = 5 and 6 yr olds; HighMid = 7 and 8 yr olds; and Aged = 9 yr and older) and assigned to one of three steam-flaked corn based feeding strategies. Treatments were as follows: Conservative (CSV), 30% roughage throughout; Standard (STD), decrease roughage from 30 to 10% over 20 d; and Aggressive (AGR), decrease roughage from 30 to 10% over 10 d. There were four pens per treatment in a randomized complete block design. Cows were fed for a total of 54 d, and BW was measured on d 0, 14, 28, 42, and 54. Half the cows from each pen were randomly selected and slaughtered at a commercial abattoir, and carcass data were collected. Average daily gain, daily DMI, and G:F during each weigh period and across the entire feeding period were calculated. Over the 54-d feeding period, strategies that employed more energy-dense diets numerically increased ADG (1.28, 1.63, and 1.55 +/- 0.14 kg/d for CSV, STD, and AGR; P = 0.26) and decreased DMI (11.91, 10.74, and 10.89 +/- 0.27 kg/d for CSV, STD, and AGR; P = 0.05), such that G:F was lower for CSV than for STD or AGR (0.105, 0.150, and 0.141 +/- 0.010; P = 0.05). Carcass weight was least for the CSV strategy (298 kg) and greatest for STD (328 kg); AGR resulted in intermediate carcass weight (317 +/- 6 kg; P = 0.04). Total cost of gain was over 30% greater for CSV strategy than for STD or AGR strategies (P < 0.01). In many cases, block effects (age) had a greater effect on responses than treatments. Average daily gain, DMI, and G:F decreased linearly with age (P < 0.01). Hot carcass weight, dressing percent, and fat thickness decreased linearly with age (P < 0.03); yield grade decreased and carcass maturity attributes increased linearly with age (P < 0.02). Performance and intake differences resulted in linear increases in total cost of gain (P < 0.01) and breakeven price (P = 0.03) with increasing age. These data indicate advantages to more aggressive feeding management strategies for culled beef cows, although maximal intake may be achieved with higher-roughage diets. Despite management effects, an increase in market price above purchase price may be required for intensive feeding of culled beef cows to be a profitable enterprise.

author list (cited authors)
Sawyer, J. E., Mathis, C. P., & Davis, B.
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  • AgingAnimal FeedAnimal HusbandryAnimalsBody CompositionCattleDietFemaleMeatWeight Gain