Summary and Implications
Two hundred forty one steers were finished utilizing a self-feeder on grass or a conventional feedlot facility. The 80 head finished on grass were self-fed either a soyhulls-DDGS-supplement or a corn-DDGS-supplement ration with access to grass from May 7 to harvest on August 26 while the 161 head conventional group was finished in a total confinement deep bedded system with the ration consisting of corn-modified DDGS-supplement-limestone-ground hay. Steers were weighed and individually identified by one of three source groups. April feeder cattle prices during the past 5 years (2004-08) for 700 to 750 lb steers was used to establish an individual value for each steer. Based on previous work, the decision was made to assign the heavier steers to the self-fed on grass group. The self-fed on grass group’s average purchase weight and price was 906 lb and $95.66/cwt ($865.84/hd), respectively, compared to the conventional group’s average weight and price of 824 lb and $101.48/cwt ($833.62/hd), respectively.
The self-fed on grass group was harvested after 131 days on feed with an adjusted final weight of 1,330 lb and average daily gain of 3.24. Conventional group cattle were harvested after 138 days on feed with an adjusted final weight of 1,310 lb and average daily gain of 3.52. Differences in average daily gain were significant. The self-fed on grass group had 12 lb heavier carcasses, but this was not significantly different. Fat cover and yield grades were similar between the two management groups. The self-fed on grass had significantly lower marbling scores than the conventional group; resulting in 47% less Choice carcasses. Feed cost for the self-fed on grass group included feed delivered to the self-feeders, warm up feed charge and pasture charge of $50/acre or $23.13/hd. Feed cost for the conventional group included total ration delivered to the feed bunk and the warm up feed charge. Total feed cost for the self-fed on grass group was $331.82/hd compared to $359.12/hd for the conventional group. The conventional fed group had a higher average daily gain which offset the total feed cost/hd resulting in the conventional fed group having a lower feed cost/cwt of gain, $74.28/cwt compared to $78.89/cwt for the self-fed on grass group. Total cost for the self-fed on grass group was $378.78/hd compared to $430.57/hd for the conventional group resulting in total cost of gains of $89.25/cwt and $90.25/cwt, respectively. The conventional groups profit was -$32.57/head compared to - $12.02/head for the self-fed on grass group. The total cost differences were not significantly different.
Iowa State University
Busby, W. Darrell; Maxwell, Dallas L.; Lawrence, John D.; Ibarburu, Maro; Strohbehn, Daryl R.; Morrical, Daniel G.; and Kiesling, Dan
"Economic Comparison of Finishing Steers on Grass with Self-Fed
By-Products to Finishing Cattle in a Conventional Feedlot,"
Animal Industry Report:
AS 655, ASL R2420.
Available at: http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/ans_air/vol655/iss1/43