Performance of Steers Finished on Pasture with Four Levels of Grain Supplementation

F.A.Martz, V.G. Tate, and J.R. Gerrish1
Finishing beef cattle on pasture offers alternatives to high capital investment for feedlot finishing and waste management problems associated with confinement feeding. A study was conducted to evaluate the performance and meat quality of steers receiving different levels of grain feeding on intensively managed cool season pastures. Cattle which were fed no grain gained 1.93 lbs/head/day. Supplying 25% of the diet as grain did not significantly improve average daily gain (ADG) while feeding 50 or 75% of the diet as grain improved both ADG and carcass quality grades. Cattle finished conventionally in a feedlot had higher ADG and higher carcass grades than any of the pasture fed cattle. The cattle receiving no grain had lighter carcasses, less fat, and lower dressing percentages than supplemented cattle. Cost per pound of gain was significantly lower for the 0 grain cattle compared to either feedlot or pasture supplemented treatments. In informal taste tests using prime ribs and sirloin steaks with 62 people involved, there was no difference in preference among any of the treatments. The shift of consumer preference toward leaner cuts of meat and smaller cuts may offer future marketing potential for pasture finished beef. ______________________________

1Research Professor of Animal Sciences and Superintendent; Research Associate; and Research Assistant Professor of Plant Science, respectively; University of Missouri-Forage Systems Research Center, Rt. 1 Box 80, Linneus, MO 64653

This paper was published in the Proceedings AFGC Annual Conference at Vancouver BC, June 12-16, 1996.