Limit-feeding can improve feed efficiency of beef cattle
Creators:Pickworth, Carrie L.
Advisor:Loerch, Steven C.
Fluharty, Francis L.
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Series/Report no.:Animal Sciences. Graduate student poster competition, 2008
The price of corn has increased significantly over the past several years resulting in a dramatic rise in production costs for the beef industry. Most beef cattle in the United States are finished on high corn diets, therefore, that industry strives to achieve maximal efficiency to reduce costs of production. Previous research has indicated that cattle undergo compensatory growth when fed excess energy after a period of limited energy intake. We investigated the effects of limit-feeding cattle to achieve a target gain of 1.1 kg/d for 90d followed by 75d of offering feed ad libitum on performance and carcass quality measures. After the entire 165d feeding period, limit-fed (LF) cattle had 3% lower (P = 0.07) dry matter intake and 5% higher (P = 0.02) average daily gain, resulting in a 7% greater (P < 0.0001) gain to feed ratio when compared to cattle offered feed ad libitum (AF). This equates to a $9.24 savings per steer. Limit feeding did not alter hot carcass weight, marbling score, and Quality Grade (P > 0.05). The LF treatment decreased (P < 0.01) backfat (24%) and Yield Grade (13%) as compared to the AF treatment. These results indicate that more desirable carcasses can be produced with increased efficiency by initially limit-feeding cattle during the finishing period. Producing high quality beef with lower feed inputs would greatly benefit the industry, especially with the increasing feed costs.