Confinement Versus Pasture and Traditional Versus Naturally Raised Finishing Influences Performance, Carcass, and Economic Characteristics of Early-Weaned Steers

Dan B Faulkner, D. W. Shike, F. A. Ireland

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Angus × Simmental steer calves (n = 208) were used in a 2 × 2 factorial design of treatments to determine the effects of finishing management (confinement vs. pasture) and production system (traditional vs. naturally raised) on performance, carcass, and economic characteristics. Naturally raised steer diets did not contain monensin or tylosin and steers were not implanted, and pasture steer diets did not contain hay. Five-year average prices and carcass values were used for economic calculations. No interactions (P > 0.05) were found for most traits except days on feed and final BW. On average, steers on pasture were fed 10.5 d longer, were 5 kg lighter, ate 0.32 kg/d less (with no roughage), were more efficient, had $35.50 lower-feed costs, and had a $37.50 lower total input cost per steer. Pasture-fed steers had 4.5 kg lighter carcass weights, had 0.25 cm less backfat, had 28% more YG 1 and 2 carcasses, had 61 units less marbling, had 13% fewer Premium carcasses, had 20.5% fewer Choice carcasses, had $25.50 less carcass value, and returned $12.50 more per steer than steers in confinement. Naturally raised steers required 3.5 more days on feed, were 39 kg lighter, ate 0.5 kg/d more, were less efficient, had $20.50 higher feed costs, and had a $22.50 higher total input cost. Naturally raised steers had 26.50 kg lighter carcass weights, had 8.1 cm2 less ribeye area, had 64 units more marbling, had 20% more Premium carcasses, had 24.5% more Choice carcasses, had $45.50 less carcass value, and had a $68.50 extra cost compared with traditional steers. Naturally raised steers can be produced effectively for a $68.50 premium either in confinement or with a pasture finishing system. Pasture finishing was $12.50 more profitable than confinement feeding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-488
Number of pages5
JournalProfessional Animal Scientist
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Science

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