Finishing Beef Cattle

May 01, 2023

Whether a producer is selecting a few animals to fill up the freezer for their family or selling beef direct to consumers, finishing and prepping calves for slaughter is a trend that continues to grow. With the goal of producing a carcass that has an ample yield of tender cuts juicy to the palate, careful feeding and management is essential. Finishing rations are all about high energy, especially compared to diets preferred for brood cows. Concentrating enough energy is the intent, as it is energy that allows for fat deposition to aid in juiciness. However, ruminant animals must be closely monitored to prevent health issues, such as reduced ruminal pH and acidosis rising from high-grain rations.
Key Management Tips
• Obtain slaughter date
It is important to match the animal’s genetics/maturity to know how long of a feeding period will be required. Later maturing genotypes typically require longer finishing periods versus earlier maturing, English breeds. This will dictate the level of performance that must be realized to prevent either under- or over-finished animals. Many commercial locker plants schedule slaughter dates as much as a year out.
• Identify what feedstuffs will be available
Less days on feed generally require more grain than forage.
• Keep them high and dry
Providing a dry, well-drained pen protected from wind will improve performance and animal comfort.
• Quench their thirst
Water availability is very important. According to published data from Oklahoma State University, 1,000-lb. steers can consume 14-20 gallons of water per day (depending on temperature).
• Acclimate cattle to ration changes
Most growing diets are higher forage/fiber rations with lower amounts of starch (grain). Incorporating more grain into the diet should be gradual over approximately 12-15 days. Acclimated animals should be offered a finishing ration for ad libitum consumption.
• Keep an eye on what they eat
Observing feed bunks are important for determining feed consumption adequacy. Cattle should be fed to approximately 2% overage. If cattle are out of feed for more than 2 hours within a 24-hour period, increase feed volume by 1 lb. of dry matter per day.
• Watch the fat
Cattle deposit fat in specific areas. Routinely observe cattle for signs of fat deposition, especially as its slaughter date approaches.
Your local Co-op has feeds specifically for this phase of beef production along with trained personnel to help formulate rations to meet the needs of the finishing program.

Read More News

May 08, 2024
Fly control is a constant struggle for horse and farm owners. Flying insects, including flies, are not just annoyances; they can serve as vectors to spread infectious diseases among animals. Effectively controlling flies requires a combination of products and techniques to manage the fly population from multiple angles.
Apr 02, 2024
The first step in deciding what feed or feed type is best for your cattle is to verify which nutrients are limiting or preventing the utilization of forage energy. Grazing cattle make their choice of diet by selectively grazing the pasture they are housed on, which can be of unknown nutrient composition. It is well established that cattle have nutrient requirements that vary with weight, production level, environmental condition, and genetics. It is relatively easy to determine these nutrient requirements for a specific beef animal — as well as the makeup of the forages used to model feedstuffs that provide important components not found in the basal forage diet.
Mar 04, 2024
We all deal with some sort of change almost every day of our lives — from changes in our surroundings such as the weather, to bigger changes that involve losing a loved one or a good friend that moves away. This may sound cliché, but change is most certainly inevitable. This is especially true in the field of agriculture.