Performance and Economics of a Long-Yearling vs. a Calf-Fed Finishing System

Performance and Economics of a Long-Yearling vs. a Calf-Fed Finishing System

August 2008

Univ. of Nebraska scientists analyzed research data from 1996 to 2004 to compare the performance and economics of calf- vs. long-yearling feeding systems. All calves in these trials were spring-born and purchased the subsequent autumn. The heaviest calves (644 lb) were placed directly into the feedlot and fed an average of 168 days (calf-fed), whereas the lighter calves (527 lb) were grazed on corn residue followed by summer grazing before entering the feedlot and fed an average of 90 days (long-yearlings). At the start of the finishing period, long-yearlings were 317 lb heavier than calf-feds (959 vs. 642 lb). Following is a summary of results (Griffin et al. 2007. Prof. Anim. Sci. 23:490).

  • Daily dry matter intake was significantly greater (P<0.01) for long-yearlings, but calf-feds consumed more total dry matter during finishing.
  • Long-yearlings had significantly greater avg. daily gain (P<0.01) during finishing than calf-feds, but calf-feds were 18.7% more efficient (P<0.01).
  • At harvest, long-yearlings were 84 lb heavier and had carcasses that were 53 lb heavier than calf-feds.
  • Quality grades were not significantly different, but calf-fed carcasses had significantly greater (P<0.01) fat thickness than long-yearlings (0.53 vs. 0.47 in.) and higher numerical yield grade (2.71 vs. 2.60).
  • Long-yearlings were more profitable than calf-feds due to their lower feed cost, yardage, initial animal cost, and greater final body weight.

Dr. Rick Rasby Dr. Rick Rasby, Professor of Animal Science
Animal Science, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Lincoln, NE