Effect of source of energy and rate of growth on performance, carcass characteristics, ruminal fermentation, and serum glucose and insulin of early-weaned steers

J. P. Schoonmaker, M. J. Cecava, Dan B Faulkner, F. L. Fluharty, H. N. Zerby, S. C. Loerch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

65 Scopus citations


Seventy-three crossbred steers (initial BW = 170.5 ± 5.5 kg) from The Ohio State University (Exp. 1) and 216 crossbred steers (initial BW 135.4 ± 4.4 kg) from the University of Illinois (Exp. 2) were used to determine the effect of source of energy and rate of growth on performance, carcass characteristics, and glucose and insulin profiles on early-weaned steers. Effects of the diets used in Exp. 1 and 2 on ruminal pH and VFA concentrations were quantified using ruminally fistulated steers (Exp. 3). Cattle were weaned at an average age of 119 d in all experiments and were allotted by age, BW, and breed to one of four diets: high-concentrate, fed ad libitum (ALCONC), high-concentrate fed to achieve a gain of either 1.2 kg/d (1.2CONC) or 0.8 kg/d (0.8CONC), or high-fiber, fed ad libitum (ALFIBER). At 218 d of age, all steers were placed on the ALCONC diet until slaughter. Steers were implanted with Compudose at the initiation of all experiments and with Revalor-S when they were estimated to be 100 d from slaughter. When steers in Exp. 1 averaged 181 and 279 d of age, serum samples were collected to determine glucose and insulin concentrations. Steers were slaughtered when a fat thickness of 1.27 cm was reached (Exp. 1) or after 273 d on feed (Exp. 2). In Exp. 1, days in the feedlot (P < 0.01) and age at slaughter (P < 0.01) were lowest for ALCONC and ALFIBER steers, and greatest for 0.8CONC steers. Overall, ADG was greatest for ALCONC and lowest for 0.8CONC steers; feed efficiency was lowest (P < 0.01) for ALFIBER steers. Final BW did not differ (P > 0.57) among treatments. At 181 and 218 d of age, serum insulin was increased (P < 0.10) and intramuscular fat percentage was greatest (P < 0.07), respectively, for ALCONC steers. In Exp. 2, overall ADG (P < 0.06) and final BW (P < 0.04) were greatest for ALCONC and lowest for 1.2CONC and 0.8CONC steers. Overall feed efficiency was greatest for 0.8CONC and lowest for ALFIBER (P < 0.01). Growing phase diet did not affect marbling score at 218 d of age or at slaughter (P > 0.81). In Exp. 3, differences in ruminal pH after feeding may have been a consequence of increasing acetate (ALFIBER), propionate (ALCONC), or a combination of VFA (0.8CONC and 1.2CONC), respectively (diet x time after feeding, P < 0.10). Controlling growth by limit-feeding a high-concentrate diet for only 100 d does not extend the growth curve of early-weaned steers or enhance intramuscular fat deposition at slaughter compared to ad libitum intake of a high-concentrate or high-fiber diet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)843-855
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes



  • Beef Cattle
  • Carcass Composition
  • Early Weaning
  • Feedlots
  • Insulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this