Effects of weaning age and diet on growth and carcass characteristics in steers

F. L. Fluharty, S. C. Loerch, T. B. Turner, S. J. Moeller, G. D. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two experiments were conducted to determine the effects of diet on growth of steers weaned at approximately 100 vs 205 d of age. In Exp. 1, a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial experiment was conducted using 78 Angus crossbred cow-calf pairs. The factors examined were age at weaning (early, at 103 ± 3 d [EW] vs normal, at 203 ± 3 d [NW]), feeding strategy (ad libitum vs postweaning programmed intake), and dietary CP concentration (100 vs 120% of NRC [1984] recommended levels). Early-weaned calves had a greater (P < .001) ADG than NW calves from 103 to 203 d and reached market weight at 385 d vs 418 d for NW calves (P < .001). Likewise, steers offered feed for ad libitum consumption reached market weight at 394 d, compared with 409 d for programmed-intake steers (P < .05). In Exp. 2, 64 Angus crossbred steers were either weaned at 93 ± 3 d and fed one of four diets, weaned at 210 ± 3 d without access to creep feed, or weaned at 210 ± 3 d with access to creep feed for 60 d prior to weaning. Early-weaned calves were heavier (P < .01) than NW calves at 210 d if fed either 100 or 90% concentrate diets, and they had greater (P < .001) backfat thickness at 210 d but no difference (P > .10) in longissimus muscle area compared to EW calves fed a 60% concentrate diet. At slaughter, 80 to 100% of steers on all treatments graded low Choice or higher. Feeding high-concentrate diets to EW beef calves accelerated growth rate and fat deposition early in the feeding period and may be a way to provide young cattle for a high-quality beef market.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1759-1767
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Beef Cattle
  • Meat Quality
  • Weaning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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