Bulletin 505 October 1952
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATIONS
WILLARD M. FIFIELD, Director
(A Contribution from the North Florida Experiment Station)
Fattening Cattle in North Florida
By F. S. BAKER, JR.
.. .. f 1
Fig. 1.-Choice yearling steers produced with 60 days grain feeding after
grazing highly improved pasture.
Single copies free to Florida residents upon request to
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
BOARD OF CONTROL P. T. Dix Arnold, M.S.A., Asst. Dairy Husb.2
Leon Mull, Ph.D., Asso. Dairy Tech.
Frank M. Harris, Chairman, St. Petersburg H. H. Wilkowske, Ph.D., Asst. Dairy Tech.
Hollis Rinehart, Miami James M. Wing, M.S., Asst. Dairy Hush.
Eli H. Fink, Jacksonville
George J. White, Sr., Mount Dora EDITORIAL
Mrs. Alfred T. duPont, Jacksonville J. Francis Cooper, M.S.A., Editor 3
George W. English, Jr., Ft. Lauderdale Clyde Beale, A.B J., Associa e E litor"
W. Glenn Miller, Monticello L. Odell Griffith, B.A.J., Asst. Editor
W. F. Powers, Secretary, Tallahassee J. N. Joiner, B.S.A., Assistant Editor 3
William G. Mitchell, A.B., Assistant Editor
J. Hillis Miller, Ph.D., Presidents ENTM Y
J. Wayne Reitz, Ph.D., Provost for Agr.3 A. N. Tissot, Ph.D., Entomologist 1
Willard M. Fifield, M.S., Director L. C. Kuitert, Ph.D., Associate
J. R. Beckenbach, Ph.D., Asso. Director H. E. Bratley, M.S.A., Assistant
L. O. Gratz, Ph.D., Assistant Director F. A. Robinson, M.S., Asst. Apiculturist
Rogers L. Bartley, B.S., Admin. Mgr.' R. E. Waites, Ph.D., Asst. Entomologist
Geo. R. Freeman, B.S., Farm Superintendent HOME ECONOMICS
Ouida D. Abbott, Ph.D., Home Econ.1
MAIN STATION, GAINESVILLE R. B. French, Ph.D., Biochemist
AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS HORTICULTURE
H. G. Hamilton, Ph.D., Agr. Economist 3 G. H. Blackmon, M.S.A., Horticul'urist *
R. E. L. Greene, Ph.D., Agr. Economist 3 F. S. Jamison, Ph.D., Horticulturist 3"
M. A. Brooker, Ph.D., Agr. Economist 3 Albert P. Lorz, Ph.D., Horticulturist
Zach Savage, M.S.A., Associate R. K. Showalter, M S., Asso. Hort.
A. H. Spurlock, M.S.A., Associate R. A. Denn;son, Ph.D., Asso. Hort.
D. E. Allener, M.S., Associate R. H. Sharpe, M.S., Asso. Horticulturist
D. L. Brooke, M.S.A., Associate4 V. F. Nettles, Ph.D., Asso. Horticulturist
M. R. Godwin, Ph.D., Associate 3 F. S. Lagasse, Ph.D., Asso. Hort.2
H. W. Little, M.S., Assistant 4 R. D. D:ckey, M.S.A., Asso. Hort.
W. K. McPherson, M.S., Economist L. H. Halsey, M.S.A., Asst. Hort.
Eric Thor, M.S., Asso. Agr. Economist C. B. Hall, Ph.D, Asst. Horticulturist
J. L. Ten-ant, Ph.D., Agr. Economist Austin Griffiths, Jr., B.S., Asst. Hort.
Cecil N. Smith, M.A., Asso. Agr. Economist S. E. McFadden, Jr., Ph.D., Asst. Hort.
Levi A. Powell, Sr., M.S.A., Asst. Agr. C. H. VanMiddelem, Ph.D., Asst. Biochemist
Economist Buford Thompson, M.S.A., Asst. Hort.
James Montelaro, Ph.D.. Asst. Horticulturist
Orlando, Florida (Cooperative USDA) LIBRARY
G. Norman Rose, B.S., Asso. Agri. Economist Ida Keeling Cresap, Librarian
J. C. Townsend, Jr., B.S.A., Agricultural
Statistician PLANT PATHOLOGY
J. B. Owens, B.S.A., Agr. Statistician 2 W. B. Tisdale, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist 3
J. K. Lankford, B.S., Agr. Statistician Phares Decker, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
Erdman West, M.S., Mycologist and Botanist
AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING Robert W. Earhart, Ph.D., Plant Path.2
Frazier Rogers, M.S.A., Agr. Engineer 1 Howard N. Miller, Ph.D., Asso. Plant Path.
J. M. Johnson, B.S.A.E., Agr. Eng.3 Lillian E. Arnold, M.S., Asst. Botanist
J. M. Myers, B.S., Asso. Agr. Engineer C. W. Anderson, Ph.D., Asst. Plant Path.
J. S. Norton, M.S., Asst. Agr. Eng. POULTRY HUSBANDRY
AGRONOMY N. R. Mehrhof, M.Agr., Poultry Husb. 3
Fred H. Hull, Ph.D., Agronomist2 J. C. Driggers, Ph.D., Asso. Poultry Hush.
Fred H. Hull, Ph.D., Agronomist 12
G. B. Killinger, Ph.D., Agronomist SOILS
H. C. Harris, Ph.D., Agronomist
R. W. Bledsoe, Ph.D., Agronomist F. B. Smith, Ph.D., Microbiologist 3
W. A. Carver, Ph.D., Associate Gaylord M. Volk, Ph.D., Soils Chemist
Darrel D. Morey, Ph.D., Associate J R. Neller Ph.D., Soils Chemist
Fred A. Clark, M.S., Assistant2 Nathan Gammon, Jr., Ph.D., Soils Chemist
Myron C. Grennell, B.S.A.E., Assistant 4 Ralph G. Leighty. B.S., Asst. Soil Surveyor
E. S. Horner, Ph.D., Assistant G. D. Thornton, Ph.D., Asso. Microbiologist
A. T. Wallace, Ph.D., Assistant 3 Charles F. Eno, Ph.D., Asst. Soils Micro-
D. E. McCloud, Ph.D., Assistant3 biologist '
H. E. Buckley, B.S.A., Assistant H.W. Winsor, B.S.A., Assistant Chemist
E. C. Nutter, Ph.D., Asst. Agronomist R. E. Caldwell, M.S.A., Asst. Chemist'
V. W. Carlisle. B.S., Asst. Soil Surveyor
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY AND NUTRITION J. Walker, M.S.A., Asst. Soil Surveyor
S. N. Edson, NM. S.. Asst. Soil Surveyor 3
T. J. Cunha, Ph.D., An. Husb.' William K. Robertson, Ph.D., Asst. Chemist
G. K. Davis, Ph.D., Animal Nutritionist 0. E. Cruz, B.S.A., Asst. Soil Surveyor
S. John Folks, Jr. M.S., Asst. An. Husb. W. G. Blue, Ph.D., Asst. Biochemist
Katherine Boney, B.S., Asst. Chem. J. G A. F:skel, Ph.D., Asst. Biochemist
A. M. Pearson, Ph.D., Asso. An. Husb.3 H. F. Ross, B.S, Soils Microbiologist
John P. Feaster, Ph.D., Asst. An. Nutri. L. C. Hammond, Ph.D., Asst. Soil Physicist-
H. D. Wallace, Ph.D., Asst. An. Hush. H. L. Breland, Ph.D., Asst. Soils Chem.
M. Koger, Ph.D., An. Husbandman 3
E. F. Johnston, M.S.. Asst. An. Husbandman VETERINARY SCIENCE
J. F. Hentges, Jr., Ph.D., Asst. An. Husb. D. A. Sanders, D.V.M., Veterinarian 1
MDAIRY SC E M. W. Emmel, D'.V.M., Veterinarian
DAIRY SCIENCE C. F. Simpson, D.V.M., Asso. Veterinarian
E. L. Fouts, Ph.D., Dairy Tech.' L. E. Swanson, D.V.M., Parasitologist
R. B. Becker, Ph.D., Dairy Husb.3 Glenn Van Ness, D.V.M., Asso. Poultry
S. P. Marshall, Ph.D., Asso. Dairy Husb." Pathologist
W. A. Krienke, M.S., Asso. Dairy Tech.3 W. R. Dennis, D.V.M., Asst. Parasitologist
BRANCH STATIONS SUB-TROPICAL STATION, HOMESTEAD
Ceo. D. Ruehle, Ph.D., Vice-Dir. in Charge
NORTH FLORIDA STATION, QUINCY D. Wolfenbarger, Ph.D., Entomologist
Francis B. Lincoln, Ph.D., Horticulturist
W. C. Rhoades, Jr., M.S., Entomologist in Robert A. Conover, Ph.D., Plant Path.
Charge John L. Malcolm, Ph.D., Asso. Soils Chemist
R. R. Kincaid, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist R. W. Harkness, Ph.D., Asst. Chemist
L. G. Thompson, Jr., Ph.D., Soils Chemist R. Bruce Ledin, Ph.D., Asst. Hort.
W. H. Chapman, M.S., Asso. Agronomist J. C. Noonan, M.S., Asst. Hort.
Frank S. Baker, Jr., B.S., Asst. An. Husb. M. H. Gallatin, B.S., Soil Conservationist
T. E. Webb, B.S.A., Asst. Agronomist
Frank E. Guthrie, Ph.D., Asst. Entomologist
Mobile Unit, Monticello WEST CENTRAL FLORIDA STATION,
R. W. Wallace, B.S., Associate Agronomist BROOKSVILLE
Mobile Unit, Marianna William Jackson, B.S.A., Animal Husband-
R. W. Lipscomb, M.S., Associate Agronomist man in Charge 2
Mobile Unit, Pensacola
R. L. Smith, M.S., Associate Agronomist RANGE CATTLE STATION, ONA
Mobile Unit, Chipley
J. B. White, B.S.A., Associate Agronomist W. G. Kirk, Ph.D., Vice-Director in Charge
E. M. Hodges, Ph.D., Agronomist
CITRUS STATION, LAKE ALFRED D. W. Jones, M.S., Asst. Soil Technologist
A. F. Camp, Ph.D., Vice-Director in Charge
W. L. Thompson, B.S., Entomologist CENTRAL FLORIDA STATION, SANFORD
R. F. Suit, Ph.D'., Plant Pathologist
E. P. Ducharme, Ph.D., Asso. Plant Path. R. W. Ruprecht, Ph.D., Vice-Dir. in Charge
C. R. Stearns, Jr., B.S.A., Asso. Chemist J. W. Wilson, Sc.D., Entomologist
J. W. Sites, Ph.D., Horticulturist P. J. Westgate, Ph.D., Asso. Hort.
H. O. Sterling, B.S., Asst. Horticulturist Ben. F. Whitner, Jr., B.S.A., Asst. Hort.
H. J. Reitz, Ph.D., Horticulturist Geo. Swank, Jr., Ph.D., Asst. Plant Path.
Francine Fisher, M.S., Asst. Plant Path.
I. W. Wander, Ph.D., Soils Chemist WEST FLORIDA STATION, JAY
J. W. Ke3terson, M.S., Asso. Chemist
R. Hendrickson, B.S., Asst. Chemist C. E. Hutton, Ph.D., Vice-Director in Charge
Ivan Stevart, Ph.D., Asst. Biochemist H. W. Lundy, B.S.A., Associate Agronomist
D. S. Presser, Jr., B.S., Asst. Horticulturist W. R. Langford, Ph.D., Asst. Agronomist
R. W. Olsen, B.S., Biochemist
F. W. Wenze!, Jr., Ph.D., Chemist
Alvin H. Rouse, M.S., Asso. Chemist SUWANNEE VALLEY STATION,
H. W. Ford, Ph.D., Asst. Horticulturist LIVE OAK
L. C. Knorr, Ph.D., Asso. Histologist
R. M. Pratt, Ph.D., Asso. Ent.-Pathologist G. E. Ritchey, M.S., Agronomist in Charge
J. W. Davis, B.S.A., Asst. in Ent.-Path.
W. A. Siman on, Ph.D., Entomologist GULF COAST STATION, BRADENTON
E. J. Deszyck, Ph.D., Asso. Horticulturist
C. D. Leonard, Ph.D., Asso. Horticulturist E. L. Spencer, Ph.D., Soils Chemist in Charge
W. T. Long, M.S., Asst. Horticulturist E. G. Kelsheimer, Ph.D., Entomologist
M. H. Muma, Ph.D., Asso. Entomologist David G. A. Kelbert, Asso. Horticulturist
F. J. Reynolds, Ph.D., Asso. Hort. Robert O. Magie, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
W. F. Spencer, Ph.D., Asst. Chem. J. M. Walter, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
I. H. Holtsberg, B.S.A., Asst. Ento.-Path. Donald S. Burgis, M.S.A., Asst. Hort.
K. G. Townsend, B.S.A., Asst. Ento.-Path. C. M. Geraldson, Ph.D., Asst. Horticulturist
J. B. Weeks, B.S., Asst. Entomologist Amegda Jack, M.S., Asst. Soils Chemist
R. B. Johnson, M.S., Asst. Entomologist
W. F. Newhall, Ph.D., Asst. Biochem.
W. F. Grierson-Jackson, Ph.D., Asst. Chem. FIELD LABORATORIES
Roger Patrick, Ph.D., Bacteriologist
Marion F. Oberbacher, Ph.D., Asst. Plant Wa G ,
Physiologist Watermelon, Grape, Pasture-Leestur:
Evert J. Elvin, B.S., Asst. Horticulturist C. C. Helms, Jr., B.S., Asst. Agronomist
L. H. Stover, Assistant in Horticulture
EVERGLADES STATION, BELLE GLADE
W. T. Forsce, Jr., Ph.D., Chemist Acting in Strawberry-Plant City
Charge A. N. Brooks, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
R. V. Allison, Ph.D., Fiber Technologist
Thomas Bregger, Ph.D., Physiologist
J. W. Randolph, M.S., Agricultural Engr. Vegetables--Hastings
R. W. Kidder, M.S., Asso. Animal Husb. A. H. Eddins, Ph.D., Plant Path. in Charge
C. C. Seale, Associate Agronomist E. N. McCubbin, Ph.D., Horticulturist
N. C. Hayslip, B.S.A., Asso. Entomologist T. M. Dobrovsky, Ph.D., Asst. Entomologist
E. A. Wolf, M.S., Asst. Horticulturist
W. H. Thames, M.S., Asst. Entomologist Pec
W. N. S owner, Ph.D., Asst. Plant Path. Pecans-Monticello
W. A. Hills, M.S., Asso. Horticulturist A. M. Phillips, B.S., Asso. Entomologist
W. G. Genung, B.S.A., Asst. Entomologist John R. Large, M.S., Asso. Plant Path.
Frank V. Stevenson, M.S., Asso. Plant Path.
Robert J. Allen, Ph.D., Asst. Agronomist Frost
V. E. Green, Ph.D'., Asst. Agronomist Frost Forecasting-Lakeland
J. F. Darby, Ph.D., Asst. Plant Path. Warren O. Johnson, B.S., Meteorologist
H. L. Chapman, Jr., M.S.A., Asst. An. Hush.
Thos. G. Bowery, Ph.D., Asst. Entomologist
V. L. Guzman, Ph.D., Asst. Hort. I Head of Department
M. R. Bedsole, M.S.A., Asst. Chem. 2 In cooperation with U. S.
J. C. Stephens, B.S., Drainage Engineer 2
A. E. Kretschmer, Jr., Ph.D., Asst. Soils 3 Cooperative, other divisions, U. of F.
Chem. 4 On leave
AVAILABLE FEEDS .. ---...--- --------- ------------...............-- ---............... .. 5
Fattening Feeds ... --......... .........----------------...... -- ---------........ 5
Corn .... .... .. ..........---.... .......... 5
Citrus By-Products .........--- ...---- ..--- ......---------.. ------- -----............ 6
O ats ..--................. ---............... ....... ................. ...... 7
Cane Molasses ... -... ----.. ...--.........-... .------...- .-- -.-.. -- --------------........ 7
Grain Sorghum s. ..... .. .............. -...............- ---......----....-.. .......... 7
Sweet Potato Meal --- --.......... ............. ----------- ...... 7
Rice Bran .......-.--_.... ........ ........... .........----......------- -- .. ...... 8
Protein Supplements ............. .......-------........--------------......... 8
Cottonseed Meal -..-...- .. --............. ..-- --....... ....... ............................. 8
Soybean Oil Meal -----------............ ........................-------.. 8
Peanut Oil Meal------- ............................... ............ ...... .......... 8
Mixed Protein Supplements ------------ -----......... -----..---.....- 8
Roughages ..---.---..-. ----------.......... --------....-.---............. 9
Peanut Hay ..---.---..-...--.------...-- ----------............ ........ 9
Grass Hay .....--- ..-..--- ..------ .......... ...... .. .-----..----- 9
Cottonseed Hulls ..--.....---.............. ....... ..----------- --- -.. .... ---- 9
Silage --...-....... --. .............---- ...-------- --...- ..-... ........- ...................... 10
Pastures -.................-- .. .... ....-------- ---- .......-------------. 10
Fertilized Grass-Legume Pastures ...........-............... .. 10
Temporary Grazing Crops ..-.....--....---------..-- -- ....... -...... 11
STOCKER-FEEDER CATTLE ................-.......... .......-------- .......... .. -.. 11
Stocker Cattle for Grazing and Later Finishing in Dry Lot ....--..-... 11
Placing Cattle Directly on Feed .-..-----....--.--.. ...- ----.. .....- ---- 14
MARKET OUTLET -............-----------.... ..... .--.-- -- -- ---... ....--- 14
FATTENING STEERS IN DRY LOT ......------- ---.....-. --- ---.... .....---......-- ......- ..... 15
Ration ... ...... ............................... ..... ........--.... 15
Balanced Ration ..................... ................. ... ...... ... . 15
Suggested Fattening Rations -.. -............-...-- .......----...... .....-... 17
Feeding Steers .... .. ... ..................... ..........-..--.......... .-......-.........-. 17
Starting on Feed ....- ....... ......-........-----................-.........-- -.. .-17
Finishing Period .....-----..-- ..... ........ ......-..--------.. ------ .... .. -- 18
Feed Required .--........---------------------...........--..-..--.--... .. ---- 18
Gain Required to Finish Steers ......------ --------------.........- - ........ 19
Heifers Versus Steers .---......-........... ....-.........----- ----- -- ....-.. .. .. 20
Factors That Influence Gains ..................----.......... --------.....-........ 20
Type of Feeder Cattle ...--.-...-..--------..------. ...... ...-.. ...- 20
MARKETING CATTLE ----.......----.. -----------------........... ... ........... ..........----- 21
Necessary Margin -..... --.....-- .......--.....--------- -- -..........-------- ............... 21
D dressing Percentage ..................................---... ...............- .-. 21
Sale Weight---------- ...--------------------------------- --- ........... 22
FACILITIES FOR FEEDING -.........-..-......- ..-- ........- --.. ---.. ------- ....... 22
CONTROL OF DISEASES AND PARASITES .-.........-...-- ....---- .... ------------...... 23
Vaccination .--..-...... .. ..... ...........----- ...--.... ---- -.......... 23
Fly and Lice Control -----........... ........... ..-------------............ 23
SU M M ARY ................................................................ ......... .. 23
LITERATURE CITED ....-.....-- ....-- .. ...--- ...................................... ...... 24
Fattening Cattle in North Florida
By F. S. BAKER, JR.
For a number of years shade tobacco growers have fed steers
in dry lot to furnish manure for tobacco. Feed lots in the shade
tobacco area have been producing most of the fed cattle in
Florida. The fattening rations used have been composed mostly
of locally grown corn, cottonseed meal and cottonseed hulls from
oil mills in the Southeast, and peanut hay from nearby peanut-
raising sections. A considerable number of Western feeder
cattle have been purchased in the past, but at present feeder
cattle are obtained in the Southeast. Most of the steers have
been fed for around 120 days in dry lot during the fall and win-
The practice of grazing steers on highly improved pasture,
followed by a short finishing period in dry lot, has become very
attractive, because steers make economical gains on fertilized
pasture in North Florida. By making maximum use of im-
proved pasture, the quantity of corn required to finish a steer
is decreased. Since the size of the local corn crop usually limits
the number of steers which are fed, grazing steers before finish-
ing them in dry lot permits a larger number of steers to be
fattened on the available supply of feed.
Both the acreage of improved pasture and the number of
better-type beef cattle in the Southeast are rapidly increasing.
Research has made higher yields of feed crops possible by de-
velopment of new crop varieties and adequate fertilization prac-
tices. With this increase in the quantity and quality of both
feed and cattle, it seems desirable that a larger number of cattle
should be fattened in this area. It is doubtful that the South-
east can ever compete with the Corn Belt in long-term feeding
operations. Nevertheless, by judicious use of improved pasture
and the available supply of grain, more cattle can be carried to
a desirable market finish.
Corn.-The most important grain crop in North Florida is
corn. Consequently it is the basis of dry lot fattening rations.
In this area it is usually fed to cattle as ground snapped corn.
This is a good form of corn for feeding cattle to a moderate
degree of finish, since the shuck and cob are utilized.
6 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
Shelled corn may produce slightly higher gains and may be
more desirable for cattle carried to a high market finish. A
bushel of snapped corn weighing 80 pounds will shell only 56
pounds of grain.1 The 24 pounds of cob and shuck contains
about 9.5 pounds of digestible matter which would be discarded
if the corn were shelled (17)2. Ground snapped corn is easier
to feed than either shelled corn or corn meal, because of the bulk
provided by the cob and shuck. Cattle can be gotten on feed
more quickly on ground snapped corn and are less likely to go
off feed or founder.
If a cattle feeder purchases corn he can afford to pay approxi-
mately 22 percent more per ton for shelled corn than for snapped
corn. As has been stated, a bushel of snapped corn weighs more
and is consequently worth more than a bushel of shelled corn.
However, a ton of snapped corn has only about 82 percent as
much feed value as a ton of shelled corn (17). Ground snapped
corn would probably be worth somewhat more than the 82 per-
cent figure during the first part of the fattening period and
somewhat less toward the end. Similarly, ground snapped corn
would have a relatively higher value for older cattle than for
calves, because older cattle utilize bulky feed more efficiently.
Citrus By-Products.-According to the State Marketing Bu.-
reau, approximately 69,000 tons citrus molasses and 163,000
tons citrus pulp-by-products of the citrus industry-were pro-
duced in Florida in 1950-1951.
Citrus molasses can be used to replace part of the corn in
steer fattening rations. Feeding trials at the North Florida
Experiment Station have shown that citrus molasses can be
satisfactorily used to replace one-half of the ground snapped
corn in a ration of snapped corn, cottonseed meal and peanut
hay. In these trials molasses was worth 80 to 100 percent as
much per ton as ground snapped corn (3, 5).
Citrus molasses stimulates the appetite, and steers fed mo-
lasses are easier to keep on feed. Molasses contains less protein
than corn; consequently, slightly more protein supplement is
required when molasses is used to replace corn. Experimental
work indicates that molasses produces less satisfactory results
if used to replace more than one-half of the corn 3 (17).
1 The commonly accepted bushel of snapped corn is not a measured
bushel b it rather the quantity of snapped corn required to shell a 56-pound
bushel of shelled corn.
2 Italic figures in parentheses refer to Literature Cited.
SKirk, W. G. Personal communication, 1949.
Fattening Cattle in North Florida 7
Perhaps the best method of feeding molasses is by pouring
it on top of the grain mixture. Steer feeders in North Florida
are feeding molasses in this manner, and this procedure un-
doubtedly results in each steer getting a more proportionate
share of both molasses and dry feed than if the molasses is fed
in a separate trough.
Dried citrus pulp may be used to replace 25 to 50 percent of
the ground snapped corn in a fattening ration. The Texas
Station (13) found dried citrus pulp equal in feeding value to
ground snapped corn when replacing 25 percent of the corn but
less satisfactory when replacing 60 percent. The latter ration
was less palatable and more laxative and produced lower gains
Oats.-In a three-year trial at the North Florida Station,
ground oats were found to be worth as much per pound as ground
snapped corn when replacing one-half of the ground snapped
corn in a steer-calf fattening ration (16). On the basis of this
experiment one bushel of oats (32 pounds) would be worth 40
percent as much as a bushel of snapped corn (80 pounds). If
protein supplements are relatively high priced, oats would have
a slightly higher value per pound because they contain more
protein than corn. It would take about one pound less of 41
percent protein supplement to furnish enough protein to bal-
ance 10 pounds of oats than to balance 10 pounds of ground
Calves may utilize whole oats efficiently, but for older cattle
it usually pays to grind oats coarsely.
Cane Molasses.-Work at the Range Cattle Station indicates
that cane or blackstrap molasses is about equal in value to citrus
molasses (10). It is recommended that molasses not be used
to replace more than half of the corn in a fattening ration.
Grain Sorghum.-The grain sorghums are worth about 90
to 95 percent as much per ton as corn for fattening cattle (17).
Sorghum grain is comparable to shelled corn, and sorghum heads
are similar to snapped corn. Grain sorghums should be ground
for best results.
Sweet Potato Meal.-The Texas Station (19) found that de-
hydrated sweet potato meal is equal to ground shelled corn when
replacing one-half of the corn in a fattening ration. It is not
advisable to replace all of the corn with sweet potato meal be-
cause, when fed in large amounts, the sweet potato meal is
laxative and unpalatable.
8 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
Rice Bran.-Rice bran was fed by a steer feeder in Gadsden
County in 1949. It compares favorably with shelled corn in feed
value when replacing no more than 25 to 30 percent of the corn,
but it probably should not be fed in larger amounts (14, 15, 20).
Rice bran becomes rancid with age and, consequently, should
not be stored for long periods.
Cottonseed Meal.-Cottonseed meal is the most widely used
protein supplement for beef cattle in the Southeast. It is an
excellent supplement, very palatable, and is a standard with
which other protein supplements in this area may be compared.
Two grades of cottonseed meal are sold in Florida, containing
36 and 41 percent protein. Unless the prices of corn and cotton-
seed meal are nearly equal, the 36 percent meal is probably
worth about 90 percent as much as 41 percent cottonseed meal.
Many cases of "cottonseed meal poisoning" have been reported
as resulting from feeding large amounts of cottonseed meal.
This condition is probably due to a deficiency of vitamin A rather
than to the toxicity of cottonseed meal. Vitamin A deficiency
is discussed more fully in the section on vitamins.
Soybean Oil Meal.-Soybean meal is as good as and possibly
slightly superior to cottonseed meal as a protein supplement for
fattening cattle. Furthermore, the soybean meal available in
the Southeast is often 4 percent higher in total protein than the
comparable grade of cottonseed meal.
In feeding trials, solvent process soybean meal has been equal
to hydraulic or expeller process soybean meal as a protein sup-
Peanut Oil Meal.-Peanut meal has compared favorably with
cottonseed meal in experimental feeding trials (17). The Texas
Station (12), however, found cottonseed meal to be more palat-
able, and steers fed cottonseed meal ate more feed. In this
experiment, carcass grades of the cattle fed peanut meal and
those fed cottonseed meal did not differ appreciably.
Mixed Protein Supplements.-Mixtures of protein supplements
may give slightly better results than single supplements (17).
For cattle fed to a moderate finish, however, it is doubtful that
the added cost of mixed supplements will pay in most cases.
The mixed supplements must contain as much protein as single
supplements to make them comparable.
Fattening Cattle in North Florida 9
Any hay can be used to only a limited extent in fattening
rations; however, cattle efficiently utilize this limited quantity
of hay. Generally speaking, it does not pay to grind hay for
cattle unless it is necessary to increase consumption of unpalat-
able, poor-quality hay (17). Grinding or chopping does not
increase the digestibility of hay. Some feeders who finish large
numbers of cattle like to grind their hay and mix it with the
grain mixture so that the entire ration can be fed with a mechani-
cal feeder. This would hardly be practical for a small operation.
Peanut Hay.-Peanut hay has been used almost exclusively
as the hay in steer fattening rations in North Florida. Good
peanut hay has about 60 percent as much energy value as ground
snapped corn (17). Consequently, if corn is selling for 840
per ton, for example, top grade peanut hay must sell for not
more than $24 per ton to be comparable in price. In many years
the feeding value of peanut hay produced in the Southeast
would be much lower than 60 percent of the value of corn.
It is very possible that the available supply of peanut hay
will not be large enough to meet the demand in the future. Since
new peanut pickers are returning the hay to the land and cattle
numbers are increasing, a severe hay shortage might occur.
For these reasons, it is likely that cattle feeders will be forced
to produce more of their hay, rather than depend almost entirely
on purchasing peanut hay as they are now doing.
Grass Hay.-The improved pasture grasses, Coastal Bermuda,
Bahia and Pangola, are potential hay crops. Surplus grass
usually can be cut from improved pastures at the end of the
summer rainy season. These grasses make good quality hay,
particularly Coastal Bermuda. Pasture-grass hay is fine-stem-
med and quick-curing, which is an advantage in a humid climate.
Experiments at Quincy, Florida, and Tifton, Georgia, indicate
that grass hay from improved pasture is superior to peanut
hay for wintering cattle (2, 7). Although the proportion of hay
in a fattening ration may be too low to make a small difference
in quality of hay important, results of these trials show that
these grass hays are worth at least as much per ton as peanut hay.
Cottonseed Hulls.-Many steer feeders in Gadsden County
feed cottonseed hulls. These hulls have only about 47 percent
as much energy value as ground snapped corn and have prac-
tically no protein (17). It is doubtful whether it is advisable
10 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
to feed cottonseed hulls if they cost more than 45 percent as
much as snapped corn or 70 percent as much as peanut hay
unless the hulls are used merely to start cattle on feed.
Many feeders like to mix cottonseed hulls with ground snapped
corn and cottonseed meal for starting cattle on feed. The bulk
of the cottonseed hulls makes it possible to increase the grain
to a full-feed more quickly. However, if hay of even fair quality
is available, cattle can be started on feed satisfactorily without
the hulls. If cottonseed hulls are fed, the proportion of hulls
should be decreased as the fattening period progresses.
Toward the end of the feeding period it is advisable to elimi-
nate the hulls from the ration entirely. Their bulk will prevent
cattle from consuming enough grain to make maximum gains
and to finish satisfactorily. It should be remembered that cot-
tonseed hulls are a roughage and not a concentrate like corn.
Older cattle can make better use of bulky feeds such as cotton-
seed hulls than can calves.
Silage.-Silage is not popular with steer feeders in North
Florida. Reporting the results of 33 experiments, Morrison
(17) states that one ton of corn silage and 14 pounds of protein
supplement saved an average of 247 pounds of corn plus 580
pounds of legume hay. This would be equivalent to about 353
pounds of snapped corn and about 474 pounds of peanut hay.
With snapped corn at $40, peanut hay at $15, and cottonseed
meal at $80 per ton, corn silage would be worth approximately
$10 per ton. A yield of 5.5 tons of corn silage per acre would
be equivalent in feed value to a corn yield of about 30 to 35
bushels per acre.
Grain sorghum silage is worth about 90 percent as much per
ton as corn silage, and sweet sorghum silage is worth approxi-
mately 67 percent as much per ton as corn silage (17).
If silage is fed to fattening steers it is generally advisable to
feed some hay in addition to the silage and grain. Three pounds
of silage contains about as much dry matter as one pound of hay.
Fertilized Grass-Legume Pastures.-Cattle make good gains
and fatten on fertilized grass-legume pasture in North Florida.
Gains on pasture cost less than dry lot gains. Consequently,
it would seem advisable that a cattle fattening program be
based on maximum use of improved pasture. Young cattle placed
on highly improved pasture in the spring will gain from 200 to
Fattening Cattle in North Florida 11
300 pounds during the grazing season. The amount of gain de-
pends on the amount of flesh the cattle have when turned on
pasture and the age and weight of the cattle.
Little is known about supplementary feed for fattening steers
on highly improved pasture in North Florida. Usually it will
not pay to feed a protein supplement to cattle on high quality
pasture, and it is doubtful whether any supplementary feeding
is advisable in the spring and early summer while pastures are
tender and lush.
If cattle are to be given supplementary feed on pasture, it is
suggested that feeding be started in the late summer when
grass begins to mature. At that time pasture plants have less
feed value and, too, cattle grazing improved pasture are carry-
ing too much flesh after grazing spring pasture to make best
use of grass. When cattle are placed on pasture in the early
spring, feed value of the pasture plants declines as the cattle
fatten. A point is finally reached where the pasture will no
longer produce gain.
Temporary Grazing Crops.-Winter small grain pasture, either
oats or rye, is needed to provide high-quality grazing during
the late fall and early winter months. Well-fertilized oats pas-
ture ranks among the very best pastures for beef cattle. Stocker
calves at the North Florida Station have gained as much as
200 pounds per head and 315 pounds per acre in a 112-day grazing
period on oats pasture with no supplementary feed except min-
erals (1). A gain of 150 pounds per head would perhaps be
more nearly average for steers grazing oats pasture for about
Cattle will make good gains on rye pasture, but because rye
does not make a good grain yield it is not very popular. Rye
pasture is not as palatable as oats; therefore, it is advisable to
seed the two separately rather than as a mixture.
STOCKER CATTLE FOR GRAZING AND LATER FINISHING
IN DRY LOT
Season for Purchasing.-Stocker-feeder cattle are marketed
in largest numbers in the fall months; thus market prices are
usually lowest during this season. Cattle that are to be grazed
in the spring and summer should generally be purchased the
preceding fall and wintered. The increase in value of the cattle
12 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
during the winter will normally more than pay the cost of win-
Type of Cattle to Purchase.-Type and quality of stocker-
feeder cattle are important, since they are reliable indicators
of the slaughter grade of the steer after fattening. The feeder
grade of cattle purchased will not determine the weight gains
that will be made; for cattle gains are not correlated with con-
formation. Although plain cattle may make as large gains as
the better grades, the latter will grade higher when slaughtered
and sell for more per pound. This makes it very important to
buy feeder cattle on a grade basis.
When a given grade of feeder cattle is fattened, the fat cattle
will normally fall into the same slaughter grade. Slaughter
grade usually varies no more than one grade below to one grade
above the feeder grade (Fig. 2). It generally pays to feed a
steer of one of the feeder grades until it is fat enough to make
the corresponding slaughter grade. In some cases market con-
ditions may make it advisable to feed to a lower or higher grade.
FEfEDE CRADE SLAUGHTER GRADE
Fig. 2.-Grades of feeder cattle and probable slaughter grades when
cattle are finished.
Fattening Cattle in North Florida 13
In addition to feeder grade, the condition of cattle at the time
of purchase is important. Thin cattle with plenty of growth
are best for putting on grass or roughing through the winter.
Fat cattle will lose weight on hay and will not make large gains
cn pasture. On the other hand, less gain and feed are required
to finish cattle which are in good flesh when purchased.
Wintering.-The method of wintering stocker-feeder cattle de-
pends on how the cattle are to be fattened. If cattle are to be
grazed on summer pasture the following year, they should be
fed so as to make only a moderate winter gain (50 to 100 pounds).
If winter gains are larger, summer pasture gains are likely to
be disappointing. Most of the winter feed should be roughage,
because if cattle are given a liberal allowance of grain during
the winter they will not gain as well when placed on spring pas-
ture without grain.
If it is desired to finish cattle at an early age, perhaps the
best plan is to graze winter oats and spring clover and finish in
dry lot in the late spring and summer. Finishing cattle in the
summer months would distribute fat cattle marketing more uni-
formly throughout the year in this area.
Finishing.-Cattle will attain a higher finish in dry lot on
grain rations than they will ever attain on pasture alone. The
rate of gain of cattle on pasture decreases as they fatten. When
cattle cease to gain weight on pasture, a grain ration is required
for further gains. Cattle finished in dry lot usually sell for a
somewhat higher price than grass-fat cattle of the same weight
and quality. Consequently, a short finishing period in dry lot
is often profitable after cattle have ceased to gain on pasture.
Some of the reasons for higher returns from cattle finished
in dry lot are higher carcass yield, less shrink from feedlot to
market and less yellow color in carcass fat. Green pasture pro-
duces yellow fat color, and although yellow fat due to feeding
should not be discriminated against, the yellow color is objection-
able to the housewife. This is especially true in the South, prob-
ably because of the large number of inferior carcasses from dairy-
bred cattle which have yellow fat, regardless of the kind of feed
If cattle are placed on pasture in the early spring and graze
highly improved pasture until late summer, only about 70 to
90 days in dry lot at the end of the pasture period will be re-
quired to feed the cattle to the choice grade (1951 USDA grades).
At the North Florida Station one group of steers which grazed
14 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
highly improved pasture was finished as "U. S. Choice" steers
with an average of only 10.5 bushels (840 pounds) snapped corn,
140 pounds cottonseed meal and 0.2 tons hay per head after the
grazing season (4). This is probably less feed than would
normally be required, but 15 bushels (1,200 pounds) of snapped
corn plus a protein supplement and hay should finish a steer
after grazing highly improved pasture during the spring and
Short-age yearling cattle which gained approximately 200
pounds per head on oats pasture in 112 days required only about
8 bushels (640 pounds) of snapped corn and 150 pounds protein
supplement per head to reach desirable market finish (1). This
is an above-average gain for cattle on oats pasture and more
grain would generally be needed to finish cattle after grazing
oats. However, these results demonstrate that high-quality pas-
ture may be used to reduce materially the quantity of grain
needed to finish cattle.
The value of pasture in reducing the cost of feeder cattle when
placed in dry lot is discussed below in the section on Necessary
PLACING CATTLE DIRECTLY ON FEED
Cattle fattened in dry lot are normally a profitable outlet for
home-grown feed. Market prices of both cattle and feed exert
more influence on the outcome of a steer feeding operation if
the cattle are fattened entirely in dry lot than if they are pas-
tured and then finished in dry lot. However, cattle finished in
dry lot sell for a higher market price than cattle coming off
pasture. Feeding steers for at least a short period in dry lot
usually is a profitable practice, but it seems desirable to limit
dry lot feeding to as short a period as possible. This is par-
ticularly true in the Southeast, where grain is much less abun-
dant than, for example, the Corn Belt. Conservatively speak-
ing, twice as much corn is needed to fatten a steer entirely in
dry lot as will be required to finish the same steer after grazing
highly improved pasture.
Market Grade.-Highly finished, long-fed cattle cannot be
sold to advantage in North Florida at present. Most of the
locally fed beef goes to grocers, who have difficulty selling beef
that is excessively fat. Moreover, the available supply of fat-
Fattening Cattle in North Florida 15
tening feed would be insufficient to support a large volume of
long-term grain feeding operations in the foreseeable future.
For these reasons it is desirable that cattle fattened in this
area be fed to a moderate degree of finish. Cattle grading "U.
S. Good" by the old system of grades, or "U. S. Choice" by the
system of grades started January 1, 1951, sell to best advantage
in North Florida at present.
Market Weight.-Heavy steers do not meet with favor in this
section. The housewife prefers cuts from carcasses weighing
no more than 600 pounds, which means that cattle should be
marketed by the time they weigh 1,000 pounds on foot. This
preference emphasizes the need for early-maturing cattle that
can be fattened at an early age. Carcasses from steers weigh-
ing 750 to 900 pounds on foot sell most readily.
FATTENING STEERS IN DRY LOT
Balanced Ration.-A balanced ration is one that furnishes
the essential nutritive elements in adequate amounts and proper
proportions to support the desired production most efficiently.
Total Digestible Nutrients.-The greatest need in a fatten-
ing ration is for total digestible nutrients or, more correctly,
available energy. Fattening feeds such as corn furnish the
major part of the total nutrients or energy required, although
cattle may get part of their energy from hay and other rough-
ages. When excessive amounts of a protein supplement such
as cottonseed meal are fed, the excess is used for energy.
After the needs of maintenance are met, excess energy from
any feed is stored in the form of fat. Thus, the higher the
ration is in energy value, the larger the proportion that will be
available for fattening after maintenance (or overhead). Grains
and other concentrates are high in energy value, roughages
relatively low. Consequently, if the ration contains too much
roughage, less will be left for fattening after maintenance needs
Protein.-Protein is needed for replacing worn-out body cells,
for growth of muscular tissue, for various body fluids such as
digestive juices and for other body functions. Without ade-
quate protein in the ration gains will be unsatisfactory and feed
will not be utilized efficiently. Most fattening feeds are low
in protein content and a protein supplement is needed to bal-
ance the ration.
16 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
During growth protein needs are high; the younger the cattle
are, the higher the percentage of protein needed in the ration.
More pounds of protein are required as weight increases. Per-
haps the most practical approach to this problem is to feed the
same daily allowance of protein supplement throughout the
fattening period. As the cattle gain weight they will eat more
total feed and thus get more pounds of protein from other
sources, but at the same time the percentage of protein supple-
ment in the ration will decrease as the corn consumption in-
Minerals.-Thirteen mineral elements are known to be needed
in the feed, but deficiencies of only a few of these are likely
to occur. Salt, calcium and phosphorus should be given special
attention. Under certain Florida conditions additional sources
of iron, copper and cobalt are needed. The remaining elements
are present in adequate quantities in Florida feeds. Salt is
always lacking and calcium and possibly phosphorus may be
deficient in dry lot fattening rations.
At the North Florida Station steers in dry lot are self-fed
common salt and steamed bonemeal in a two-compartment trough.
This satisfies the need for salt in the ration and insures against
any possible lack of either calcium or phosphorus, since bone-
meal is a good source of both.
Vitamins.-Vitamin A is the vitamin most likely to be lack-
ing in dry lot rations. Feeding bright green hays is a good
safeguard to prevent vitamin A deficiencies. Yellow corn is
a fairly good source. Rations such as cottonseed meal and hulls
are very low in vitamin A. Cases of so-called "cottonseed meal
poisoning" resulting from feeding cottonseed meal and hulls for
an extended period have been found to be due to a lack of
Fortunately, cattle are able to store considerable quantities
of vitamin A while on green feed, and deficiencies do not occur
during short feeding periods. The Texas Station (11, 20) found
that 250- to 400-pound calves may be expected to show deficiency
symptoms after 40 to 80 days' feeding on rations low in vitamin
A. Calves weighing over 400 pounds showed this condition in
80 to 120 days and yearlings after 100 to 150 days. The first
deficiency symptom is night blindness, followed by sluggishness,
eye discharge, failure to gain, rapid breathing, swollen joints,
total blindness, and convulsions. Death finally ensues if cor-
Fattening Cattle in North Florida 17
rective measures are not taken. Feeding bright green hay or
grazing green pasture will bring about complete recovery from
all symptoms with the exception of total blindness.
SUGGESTED FATTENING RATIONS (per head daily)
a. Ground snapped corn-according to appetite.
41% cottonseed, soybean or peanut meal-2.25 to 2.5 lbs. Peanut
or grass hay-self-fed.
b. Equal parts by weight of ground snapped corn and citrus molasses-
according to appetite.
41% cottonseed, soybean or peanut meal-2.5 to 3.0 lbs. Peanut or
c. Equal parts ground snapped corn and ground oats-according to
41% cottonseed, soybean or peanut meal-1.75 to 2.0 lbs. Peanut or
d. Seven parts ground snapped corn I
According to appetite.
Three parts dried citrus pulp ]
41% cottonseed, soybean or peanut meal-2.5 lbs. Peanut or grass
e. Four parts ground snapped corn, 1 part cottonseed hulls-according
41% cottonseed, soybean or peanut meal-2.5 lbs. Peanut or grass
NOTE: Self-feed salt and steamed bonemeal in addition to above rations.
Starting on Feed.-Steers should be started on grain feed
gradually. It is desirable to get as much grain into fattening
cattle as possible, but if cattle are started on feed too quickly
digestive disturbances may result, in which case the cattle go off
feed and are slow in starting to eat again.
There are two satisfactory methods of starting steers on
grain feed gradually. (1) Start with a limited allowance of
grain, increasing to a full feed slowly while self-feeding hay.
(2) Mix a roughage, such as cottonseed hulls or ground hay,
with the grain, gradually increasing the proportion of grain and
reducing the proportion of roughage. It is far better to go too
slow in starting cattle on feed than it is to put them on feed
Cattle cannot be started on feed and kept on full feed by an
exact mathematical formula. Individual cattle vary in the way
they take feed; weather conditions which influence appetite
18 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
vary from year to year and from one locality to another; feeds
vary somewhat from year to year; and other variable factors
influence feed consumption. Recommendations can be made to
serve as guides, but skillful cattle feeders adjust their method
of feeding to fit each particular group of cattle. Perhaps the
best general recommendation is to take at least three to four
weeks in increasing the grain ration of steers to a full feed.
It apparently makes little difference what hours cattle are fed,
so long as they are fed at the same time each day. Regularity
Finishing Period.-Cattle are considered to be on a full feed
of grain when they are eating each day a quantity of concen-
trates equal in weight to at least 2 percent of their live weight
(for example, 800-pound steers would have to eat at least 16
pounds of concentrates per head daily to be on full feed). Cattle
on full feed should be fed twice daily all the grain they will
clean up in about one hour.
Calves and yearlings usually will consume each day a quantity
of feed (concentrates plus hay) equal in weight to 3 percent
of their live weight. Calves will sometimes eat slightly more.
Two-year-old steers and older cattle often will not eat more
than an amount of feed equal to 2.5 percent of their live weight.
There is considerable variation among cattle in this respect
and many will consume slightly more feed than this. It is very
desirable to give fattening cattle all they will eat. Roughly
one-half of the feed a steer is capable of consuming is needed
for maintenance. Only after satisfying the maintenance needs
can feed be used for body gain.
Generally speaking, there is not much difference in the quan-
tities of grain required to finish steers of different ages. For
example, calves eat less feed per day than yearlings but the
calves must be fed for a longer period to reach the same degree
of finish. Older cattle, however, require somewhat more rough-
Because of their proportionally smaller maintenance require-
ment, ability to eat more feed in relation to their live weight,
and the fact that much of their gain is growth, calves make the
cheapest gains. In a Nebraska experiment yearlings required
25 percent more feed and two year olds 50 percent more feed
per hundred pounds gain than calves (6).
Fattening Cattle in North Florida 19
Following are estimated amounts of feed (in pounds) required
per 100 pounds steer gain in dry lot, using feeds commonly fed
in North Florida.4
Ration I Calves Yearlings
Ground snapped corn ..................... 675 885
41% cottonseed meal ......................... 120 120
Peanut hay .......................................... 270 320
Ground snapped corn ....................... 385 475
Citrus molasses ................................ 385 475
41% cottonseed meal ......................... 130 105
Peanut hay ....... .. .......................... ....... 160 200
Ground snapped corn ...-................... 695 875
41% cottonseed meal ........................ 130 130
Cottonseed hulls ................................ 110 130
Peanut hay ........... ............... 165 190
Ground snapped corn .......................... 370 440
Citrus molasses ............................. 370 440
41% cottonseed meal .......................... 135 120
Cottonseed hulls .............................. 105 160
Peanut hay ............... ........ .... 105 140
GAIN REQUIRED TO FINISH STEERS
The older the feeder cattle, the less gain required to finish.
For example, calves use more of their feed for growth and con-
sequently fatten less rapidly than more mature cattle.
The amount of gain required to fatten a steer to a given
slaughter grade will depend on the condition of the steer when
started on feed. At the North Florida Station yearling steers
grazed through the summer on improved pasture have attained
a satisfactory market finish in dry lot after gaining only about
100 to 150 pounds. Thinner yearling feeder steers which have
not been grazed on improved pasture may require 250 pounds
gain or more to bring them to a comparable degree of finish.
Generally speaking, choice feeder cattle will reach the choice
slaughter grade after making approximately the following total
Estimates based on feeding trials conducted at the North Florida Ex-
periment Station and feedlot results in Gadsden County, Florida.
20 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
Calf -....................... ...... .-----.... .......- .....-- ....... 300
Y earling .... ................... ........... ...... ........ ............ ...... 240
Two-year-old ......... --....... --..-.. .. --....... .- ....- -..........--.. 180
HEIFERS VERSUS STEERS
Heifers may be substituted for feeder steers but have certain
disadvantages. Heifers may be pregnant, which is undesirable
if pregnancy reaches an advanced stage before slaughter. Open
heifers repeatedly come in heat, thereby creating a disturbance
in the feedlot. The heat periods apparently cause little harm
except when steers and heifers are in the same pen. Evidence
also exists that heifers do not yield as desirable carcasses as
steers when finished because carcasses from heifers have less
marbling (interspersing of fat and lean) and heifer carcasses
have somewhat more internal fat (8).
Heifers can be expected to gain about as well as steers and
heifers fatten more rapidly. The latter is especially true when
heifer and steer calves are compared, since the heifers mature
earlier and consequently fatten more quickly than steers when
young. With older cattle there is less difference in the time
required to fatten heifers and steers, although heifers tend to
finish more quickly at any age.
FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE GAINS
Age, size and condition of feeder cattle, as well as the ration
fed, influence gains. Rate of gain increases with age and size
of feeder cattle. Of course, this fact is not to be taken as a
recommendation to purchase thin feeder cattle, for more gain
is required to finish thin cattle. Such factors as market prices
of feeder and fat cattle, supply of feed, and whether or not the
cattle are to be grazed before grain feeding will determine
whether thin or fleshy feeders are most desirable. Thin cattle
gain more rapidly than fat cattle, especially when the cattle
reach maturity. Fat calves may continue to gain after they
are finished because of growth, but the rate of gain of mature
steers decreases rapidly when they fatten.
TYPE OF FEEDER CATTLE
Beef type is a very important factor in feeder cattle. The
higher the type of feeder cattle, the less gain and feed required
to reach a given slaughter grade. For example, the Illinois
Station has fed good grade yearling feeder steers to the good
slaughter grade with 28.8 bushels of corn in 147 days, while
Fattening Cattle in North Florida 21
choice yearling steers required only 17.3 bushels of corn and
111 days to reach the good grade (9).
Rate of gain is not associated with conformation in feeder
cattle. Common cattle can be expected to gain as rapidly as
choice cattle, other factors being equal. However, the choice
cattle, will yield more desirable carcasses with less feed and
less gain than common cattle.
The most profitable grade of cattle to feed will depend on
market conditions. In some years medium steers may be sell-
ing at relatively high prices and thus be more profitable, while
in other years choice steers may be more desirable.
Profit from fattening cattle entirely in dry lot generally de-
pend on selling the original weight for more than it cost, because
gain in dry lot normally costs more per pound than the market
price of fat cattle. Therefore, fat cattle must usually sell for
more per hundredweight than the feeder cattle cost if the feed-
ing operation is to be successful. The difference in price per
hundredweight between fat and feeder cattle needed to "break
even" is known as the necessary margin.
Because pasture gains are relatively inexpensive, cattle grazed
for a considerable period before feeding in dry lot normally re-
quire no margin and often can be sold for less per hundred as
fat cattle than they cost as feeders.
Because of their economical gains and higher cost per pound,
calves require less margin than older cattle.
Other factors being equal, heavy feeder cattle require less
margin than light cattle because of the larger number of pounds
of weight on which to have a margin.
Dressing percentage, or the percentage of carcass weight of
live weight, is one of the principal factors in determining the
sale price per pound of fat cattle. However, dressing percentage
should not be considered all-important by the cattle feeder. He
is engaged in the task of producing a carcass, and the weight
of the carcass produced is very important. Whether the weight
of the carcass produced is 58, 59 or 60 percent of the live weight
is not too important to the feeder, so long as cattle are sold on
the basis of the dressing percentage. Very often cattle that
yield the heaviest and best carcasses do not dress the highest
because they are somewhat large in the middle.
22 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
Hay should not be strictly limited or eliminated during the
latter part of the feeding period merely in an effort to reduce
the size of the paunch or middle on steers. It is doubtful whether
this practice accomplishes its purpose. It may well lead to
digestive disturbances and lower gains, as well as to a higher
feed cost per pound of gain. Even though the dressing percent-
ages could be increased by withholding hay, the weight of the
carcass would not be increased, so the cattle feeder would ac-
tually have no more to sell.
It is true that among cattle of similar type that have been
fed in the same way, dressing percentage is a good indication
of the degree of finish. However, the feeder should fatten his
cattle as well and as efficiently as he is able; and rather than
trying to reduce the paunch on his cattle so as to increase dress-
ing percentage, he should endeavor to produce as heavy a carcass
as possible with a minimum feed cost.
Cattle are customarily sold on the basis of shrunk weight.
When hauled for a considerable distance to market, there is an
actual shrinkage. In this case the sale weight is generally the
weight on foot. However, if the cattle are weighed on the farm
or hauled for only a short distance, a calculated shrinkage usually
is deducted from the weight on foot and the actual weight on
foot minus the calculated shrinkage is taken as the sale weight.
In the latter case, 3 percent is ordinarily deducted from the live
weight in calculating the sa'e weight.
If cattle are weighed on the farm or hauled for only a short
distance to scales, it is the usual practice to weigh them in the
morning. Afternoon weights are considerably heavier than
morning weights because of fill acquired during the day. This
fill is mostly water and is of no value to the purchaser. Thus,
if cattle are allowed to take on a fill before weighing, the buyer
is placed at a disadvantage and must take this into consideration
in the price paid. It is to the seller's advantage to weigh his
cattle early in the day when weights are most reliable.
FACILITIES FOR FEEDING
Feed troughs, water troughs, hay racks and pens are needed
for fattening cattle. Feeding may be done either under shelter
or in the open; in the latter case, feed troughs should be shel-
tered in the Southeast. Cattle fed in the shade tobacco area
of North Florida are fed under shelter to conserve manure.
Fattening Cattle in North Florida 23
Trough Space.-At least 11/2 feet of trough space is needed
for each steer. Much less space is needed at hay racks than
at the trough where grain is fed.
Pen Space.-At least 50 square feet of pen space should be
provided for each steer under shelter. If cattle are fed in the
open, adequate pen space usually is not much of a problem.
However, it is best to confine fattening steers to fairly small
areas so they will not take excessive exercise. Shade should
be provided during the summer months.
CONTROL OF DISEASES AND PARASITES
Vaccination.-It is wise to vaccinate feeder cattle against
blackleg and also against hemorrhagic septicemia (shipping
fever) if they are shipped for any distance. Vaccination against
hemorrhagic septicemia is most effective if done a few days
before the cattle are shipped.
Fly and Lice Control.-Flies and lice are easily controlled by
spraying with the new insecticides-toxaphene, lindane, DDT
and methoxychlor (18). A concentration in water of 0.5 per-
cent actual insecticide in wettable powder form will control flies
and lice. Toxaphene or a combination of toxaphene and lindane
probably is best. A second spraying two to three weeks after
the first is sometimes needed to rid cattle of lice. Spraying for
fly control should be repeated as necessary. With the excep-
tion of methoxychlor, it is recommended that these insecticides
not be used on cattle within 30 days of the time they are
Shade tobacco growers are now fattening a considerable num-
ber of steers in dry lot each year. Fattening rations consist of
locally grown corn, oil meal, and hay. Citrus molasses is often
used to replace part of the corn.
The practice of grazing cattle on improved pasture before
grain feeding lowers the cost of the cattle when placed in dry
lot and reduces the quantity of grain required to fatten. Both
improved permanent pasture and temporary winter grazing
crops, such as oats, are excellent for grazing cattle before finish-
ing in dry lot.
Because of higher market prices paid for grain-fed cattle, it
is usually profitable to finish cattle in dry lot after they have
ceased to gain weight on pasture.
24 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
1. BAKER, F. S., JR. Beef production. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. An. Rpt.
2. BAKER, F. S., JR. Roughages for maintenance and growth of beef
cattle in Florida. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. An. Rpt. 1950: 221.
3. BAKER, F. S., JR. Citrus molasses in a steer fattening ration. Fla.
Agr. Exp. Sta. Circ. S-22. 1950.
4. BAKER, F. S., JR, and J. D. WARNER. Steers fattened largely on pas-
ture reach heavy weight at Quincy station. Fla. Cattleman. April,
5. BAKER, F. S., JR. Citrus molasses and urea in steer fattening rations.
Mimeo. Rpts. 1951, 1952.
6. BERESFORD, REX. 151 Questions on cattle feeding and marketing. Iowa
Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. P-99: 330 (Abstract). 1949.
7. Ga. Coastal Plain Exp. Sta. Wintering unbred heifers (beef), Coastal
Bermuda hay vs. peanut hay. An. Rpt.:64, 65. 1949:50.
8. Ill. Agr. Exp. Sta. Twenty-first cattle feeders' meeting. Mimeo. Rpt. Ill.
Agr. Exp. Sta. 1949.
9. Ill. Agr. Exp. Sta. Twenty-second cattle feeders' meeting. Mimeo.
Ept. Ill. Agr. Exp. Sta. 1950.
10. KIRK, W. G. Utilization of citrus products for fattening cattle. Fla.
Agr. Exp. Sta. An. Rpt. 1949: 238.
11. JONES, J. H., H. SCHMIDT, R. E. DICKSON, G. S. FRAPS, J. M. JONES,
J. K. RIGGS, A. R. KEMMER, P. E. HOWE, W. H. BLACK, N. R. ELLIS,
and P. T. MARION. Vitamin A studies in fattening feeder calves
and yearlings. Texas Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 630. 1943.
12. JONES, J. H., R. E. DICKSON, J. M. JONES, P. T. MARION, W. L. STANGEL,
and B. C. LANGLEY. Peanut meal and cottonseed meal as protein
supplements in rations for fattening steers. Texas Agr. Exp. Sta.
Bul. 685. 1946.
13. JONES, J. M., R. A. HALL, E. M. NEAL, and J. H. JONES. Dried citrus
pulp in beef cattle fattening rations. Texas Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul.
14. KNOX, J. H., J. H. JONES, and J. M. JONES. Rice bran in rations for
fattening yearling steers. Texas Agr. Exp. Sta. Cattle Feeding
Series 19. 1935.
15. KNOX, J. H., J. H. JONES, and J. M. JONES. Rice bran as a part of the
grain ration for fattening steers. Texas Agr. Exp. Sta. Cattle
Feeding Series 11. 1933.
16. McCORMICK, W. C., R. S. GLASSCOCK, and J. D. WARNER. Ground oats
for fattening steers. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. An. Rpts. 1943, 1944, 1945.
17. MORRISON, F. B. Feeds and feeding. 21st ed. Morrison Publishing
18. RHOADES, W. C., and F. S. BAKER, JR. Hornfly control. Fla. Agr.
Exp. Sta. An. Rpt. 221. 1950.
19. SCHUESSLER, N. G., and J. H. JONES. Dehydrated sweet potato meal
(no starch removed) as a carbohydrate concentrate for fattening
heifer beef calves. Texas Agr. Exp. Sta. Cattle Feeding Series 43.
20. Texas Agr. Exp. Sta. Beef cattle investigations in Texas 1888-1950.
Texas Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 724: 38. 1950.