Comparison of three weaning ages on cow-calf performance and steer carcass traits

S. E. Myers, Dan B Faulkner, F. A. Ireland, D. F. Parrett

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70 Scopus citations

Abstract

An experiment was conducted to compare three weaning ages on cow-calf performance and steer carcass traits. Crossbred steers (n = 168; 1/2 Simmental × 1/4 Angus × 1/4 Hereford) were randomly assigned to three treatments with eight pens per treatment: groups were 1) weaned at an average of 90 d of age (90 ± 13 d) and placed in the feedlot, 2) weaned at an average of 152 d of age (152 ± 13 d) and placed in the feedlot, and 3) weaned at an average of 215 d of age (215 ± 13 d) and placed in the feedlot. The number of days steers were finished decreased by 55 and 38 d (linear, P = .0001) as weaning age increased when slaughtered at a constant fat end point (.81 cm). Weaning at an average of 90 and 152 d of age improved overall ADG by .15 and .07 kg/d, respectively, over weaning at an average of 215 d of age (linear, P = .005). Over the entire finishing period, intake increased (linear, P = .0006) and efficiency was poorer (linear, P = .004) as weaning age increased. Owing to differences in finishing days and intake, total concentrate consumed increased (linear, P = .03) as weaning age decreased. No differences (P > .21) were observed for carcass weight, longissimus muscle area, or yield grade. No differences (P > .19) were observed in marbling score or percentage of steers grading greater than or equal to Choice or Average Choice. Cow body condition score improved (linear, P = .0001) as weaning age decreased. Pregnancy rate improved 12 percentage units (linear, P = .15) for cows on the 90-d weaning treatment. In this study, early weaning improved gain and feed efficiency, but it increased total concentrate consumed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-329
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Volume77
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1999
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • Beef cattle
  • Reproduction
  • Weaning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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