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Considerations for Finishing Cattle for Beef

Considerations for Finishing Cattle for Beef

Have you considered finishing cattle for beef? A few questions might arise when contemplating raising cattle. These could include:

What are contemporary groups?

Feeding cattle that grow similarly and finish around the same time and weight will allow your operation to be more efficient. A nutritionist will be able to target feed that group of cattle more precisely than a group of cattle with different growth patterns. Cattle can be organized multiple ways, but the main two are grouping similar body weights and breeds together. If more data is provided, such as sire information or frame size, cattle can be organized using multiple layers of data to keep cattle with the most similar growth patterns together. Another method for organizing cattle groups is by genetic testing to evaluate each animal’s growth potential, then placing cattle into groups based on the genetic tests. Overall, cattle in similar groups will grow more efficiently than a diverse group of cattle.

What type of animal should I raise?

When finishing cattle, the first thing to think about is the breed of cattle that are being raised. The main two breed types would be dairy breeds vs beef breeds. A common dairy breed used for beef is Holstein, while beef breeds can include Angus, Simmental, and Charolais. A hybrid between dairy and beef breeds can also be commonly fed in Pennsylvania. Each breed has their positives and negatives to feeding. Dairy breeds are cheaper to purchase, but cost more to feed, because they are on feed longer than beef breeds. In addition, Holstein genetics are similar, which makes a more uniform group of cattle to feed. This is advantageous, because cattle in similar contemporary groups grow identically and reach market weight at similar times. Holstein beef is known for good marbling in the ribeye but lacking overall size and shape to that ribeye. Beef breeds tend to cost more to purchase but are on feed less time. These cattle can be more variable due to the diversity in beef cattle genetics. Variability is undesirable in raising groups of cattle, because some will reach market weight sooner than others. Ensure that similar cattle are raised together to improve efficiency. Some beef crosses can provide more muscling or marbling than a purebred, which can enhance the value of the carcass and overall profitability. Dairy x beef hybrids are a new twist that could use further evaluation to know their placement in the beef industry. Some hybrids will grow like beef animals, while others will grow more like a Holstein. These animals can be challenging to know what contemporary group to put them in. Overall, a breed or cross of breeds should be consistent throughout your group of cattle to better efficiency. Depending on your outlet to sell beef should determine the breed or breeds of cattle that you feed.

Where to purchase animals?

Before purchasing animals, you should decide where you are planning on marketing these animals. The cattle that you purchase should match your production goals. If your goal is to produce as many cattle to meet Certified Angus Beef standards, then purchasing Holsteins or non-black hided animals to finish would not be desirable based on that specific goal. Once you decide your production goals and have determined what kind of cattle you would like to raise, find a reputable breeder, and purchase cattle directly from that source. Cattle that come vaccinated, have good nutritional background, and are not vitamin or mineral deficient will have the most success in your feeding program. Unhealthy cattle increase the cost of production, because these animals will need to be treated and intake will decrease. In addition, animals that come from a reputable breeder should have stronger genetics for production and performance. If cattle are on feed for less days, feed costs can be lowered. The faster cattle grow, the more cattle that can go through your production system, which spreads the fixed operation costs over more cattle, increasing and promoting profitability.

What is the take-home message?

In order to improve efficiency and profitability of your operation, cattle need to be in similar groups. The breed of cattle that you feed should match your production goals. Purchase cattle from reputable breeders that are putting in the extra time to ensure that their calves are ready to succeed in your feedlot operation. The quicker the cattle grow, the more cattle that can go through your operation in a year’s time. More cattle in a year’s time will spread the costs of equipment usage needed to finish cattle over more head of cattle, thus, increasing profitability and your ability to grow and expand.

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