Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Available feeds
 Stocker-feeder cattle
 Fattening steers in drylot
 Control of diseases and parasi...
 Literature cited
 Historic note

Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station ; 675
Title: Finishing cattle in north Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00027433/00001
 Material Information
Title: Finishing cattle in north Florida
Series Title: Bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Physical Description: 35 p. : ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Baker, F. S ( Frank Sloan ), 1921-
Publisher: University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1964
Subject: Cattle -- Feeding and feeds -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Cattle -- Weight and measurement -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 33-35.
Statement of Responsibility: F.S. Baker, Jr.
General Note: Cover title.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00027433
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000929068
oclc - 18353860
notis - AEN9836

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page 1
    Table of Contents
        Page 2
        Page 3
    Available feeds
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    Stocker-feeder cattle
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
    Fattening steers in drylot
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
    Control of diseases and parasites
        Page 31
        Page 32
    Literature cited
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
    Historic note
        Page 37
Full Text
-tin 675


S 7^. June 1964
rig.j Q^ ^




University of Florida
J. R. Beckenbach, Director


A VAILABLE FEEDS .................. .... ... ........... .. ......... ........ 4
Energy Feeds .................... ... .. ......... .........-- ------.. 4
Protein Supplements ...... ....................... .................. 7
Roughages ................... .. .. ... ... ... ................ 10
Pastures .................... ...... ... ...................... 13
STOCKER-FEEDER CATTLE .......................................... ............ .... 15
Season for Purchasing ................ .......... .... ............ ... ......... ...... 15
Type of Cattle to Purchase ...................... ........... ........... ...... ......... 15
W entering .. ............. ---............. ............ 16
Finishing ....................................... ..... ................ ........ 17
Placing Cattle Directly on Feed ................................ ........... 18
FATTENING STEERS IN DRYLOT .................---....... ....--....... 18
R ation ............................................................................ ...... 18
Feeding Steers ............................. ... ............ .................. 21
Feed Required ..................... ... .... .. .. ........................ 24
Gain Required to Finish .............. ........................ ...... 25
H eifers versus Steers ....................... ..... .. ................ ................ 26
Type of Feeder Cattle ....................... ... ..... ...... .............. 26
Factors that Influence Gains .................................. ................... 27
N necessary M argin ............................. ..................................... ................. 27
Dressing Percentage or Carcass Yield ...................... ...................... 28
Sale Weight ............................................................. 29
Market Demand ....................................................... 30
Facilities for Feeding ....................................... .. ..- ....... 30
CONTROL OF DISEASES AND PARASITES ........................................ 31
SUMMARY .......... ....... ....- ....... ..................... ----------- 32
LITERATURE CITED ..................... .. .. ........... .................... 33

This bulletin replaces Bulletin 505, Fattening Cattle in North Florida,
F. S. Baker, Jr., 1952.

The use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of
providing specific information. It is not a guarantee or warranty of the
products named and does not signify that they are approved to the exclusion
of others of suitable composition.




For a number of years shade tobacco growers have fed steers
in drylot to furnish manure for tobacco. In the last decade
cattle feeding has expanded to counties outside the shade tobacco
area, and a considerable number of tobacco growers have in-
creased their feeding operations beyond the size needed to pro-
duce manure. This increase has been particularly rapid during
the last three years. Fattening rations are composed mostly
of locally grown corn and grass hay, citrus molasses from cen-
tral Florida plants, and cottonseed meal and cottonseed hulls
from oil mills in the Southeast. Most of the feeder cattle are
purchased in the Southeast, but at times considerable numbers
of western cattle are shipped in. Most steers are fed for 90 to
120 days in drylot. Although many tobacco farmers continue
to feed cattle mainly in the fall and winter months, larger feeders
are feeding increasing numbers throughout the year.
Many calves and light yearling stocker cattle are grazed on
temporary small grain and clover and/or improved grass pas-
tures prior to finishing on grain in drylot. In recent years the
practice of feeding grain-on-grass prior to finishing in drylot
has become more prevalent.
Both the acreage of improved pasture and the number of
better-type beef cattle have been increasing in the Southeast.
In addition, larger yields of grain crops, particularly corn, have
resulted in lower feed costs in recent years. With this increase
in quantity and quality of both feed and cattle, it seems desirable
that a larger number of cattle should be fattened in the area.
The Southeast produces much less fed beef than it consumes,
thus assuring local cattle feeders market prices for beef equal to
Midwest prices plus the freight cost required to transport Mid-
west beef to the Southeast.

SAnimal Husbandman, North Florida Station, Quincy.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


Energy Feeds
Corn.-The most important field crop in the Southeast is
corn. Because it is available in quantity and has such a high
energy value, it is the basis of drylot fattening rations. At
present in north Florida corn is normally harvested in the ear
and fed in the ground snapped form. This is a good form of
corn for feeding cattle to a moderate degree of finish, since the
shuck and cob are utilized. Snapped corn contains approxi-
mately 70 to 75 percent grain and 25 to 30 percent cob and
shuck. Thus 80 pounds of snapped corn contains about 56 pounds
of shelled corn and 24 pounds of cob and shuck. The 24 pounds
of cob and shuck have about 10.5 pounds digestible matter which
would be discarded if the corn was shelled (40).2 In addition,
the cobs and shucks in ground snapped corn constitute a valuable
roughage that helps in preventing scours and founder. This
roughage makes ground snapped corn easier to feed than ground
shelled corn, and the cattle can be started on feed more
With increased use of picker-shellers, the quantity of shelled
corn is increasing in the Southeast with a corresponding decrease
in the amount of snapped corn. Also, shelled corn is being
brought in from the Corn Belt to supplement the local supply,
which is resulting in an increased use of ground shelled corn
in steer fattening rations. Ground shelled corn will produce
more finish on cattle than ground snapped corn. If fed to
cattle for the same length of time, shelled corn will produce
heavier, fatter carcasses, although live weight gains from the
two may be similar (1). If fed to the same degree of finish,
cattle given ground shelled corn will reach finish and may be
marketed earlier. A cattle feeder can afford to pay approxi-
mately 25 to 33 percent more per ton for ground shelled corn
than for ground snapped corn (2, 40). Conversely, snapped
corn is worth about 75 to 80 percent as much per ton as shelled
corn. Ground snapped corn would probably be worth somewhat
more than the 75 percent figure early in the feeding period and
somewhat less toward the end, because more roughage is gen-
erally needed early in the feeding period. Similarly, ground
snapped corn would have a relatively higher value for older

2 Numbers in parentheses refer to Literature Cited.

Finishing Cattle in North Florida

cattle than for calves, because older cattle utilize bulky feed
more efficiently. In most instances it will be advisable to mix a
roughage such as cottonseed hulls, ground cobs, or possibly
ground peanut hulls with ground shelled corn while cattle are
being started on feed. After the cattle are brought to full-
feed, the roughage in the grain mixture may be reduced, or in
some instances, even eliminated if grass hay is self-fed.
Other methods of preparing corn, such as cracking, dry roll-
ing, steam rolling, and pelleting, may have certain advantages.
Flaked or steam rolled corn has given excellent results in a steer
feeding experiment at Gainesville (32). Steers fed the flaked
corn made fast and exceptionally efficient gains, but further
studies are needed before recommendations can be made.
Citrus By-Products.-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 used to replace up to one-half of the ground
snapped corn in a ration of snapped corn, cottonseed meal, and
hay. In these trials molasses was worth 80 to 100 percent as
much per ton as ground snapped corn (3, 4, 5).
Citrus molasses stimulates the appetite, and steers fed mo-
lasses are easier to keep on feed. Apparently 4 to 5 pounds of
molasses per head daily, or possibly less, is needed to give this
boost in results; and at this level, citrus molasses is worth fully
as much per ton as ground snapped corn. If fed in amounts
greater than needed to stimulate appetite and gain, citrus mo-
lasses merely replaces corn and must be purchased at no more
than 80 percent the cost of ground snapped corn. Results have
been less satisfactory when citrus molasses was used to replace
more than one-half of the corn (4, 5).
There is considerable variation in citrus molasses, resulting
in differences in palatability in various lots. Also, well-cured
molasses is generally more palatable than fresh molasses. In
addition, there is a variation among cattle in the amounts of
molasses they will readily consume. Because of these factors,
recommendations concerning the quantities to feed should serve
only as guides. Molasses should never be fed in amounts large
enough to restrict total feed intake.
In north Florida, citrus molasses is fed by pouring on top
of the grain mixture, by pumping in the trough with the dry
feed, by piping into the trough, or by mixing with the remainder
of the ration. Apparently all four methods are satisfactory,

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations

although no experimental comparisons of methods of feeding
have been made.
Dried citrus pulp may be used to replace 25 to 50 percent of
the ground snapped corn in a fattening ration. The Texas Sta-
tion (33) found dried citrus pulp equal in feeding value to ground
snapped corn when replacing 25 percent of the corn but less sat-
isfactory when replacing 60 percent. The latter ration was less
palatable and more laxative and produced lower gains and finish.
In north Florida rations containing high levels of citrus molasses,
dried citrus pulp has been less satisfactory for replacing corn.
Experimental results indicate that citrus pulp is worth no more
than 75 percent as much as ground snapped corn in rations
containing liberal amounts of citrus molasses (5). Citrus meal
(fines and other small particles from citrus pulp) is worth even
less in this type of ration. Possibly there is a limit as to how
much total citrus products can be fed without lowering the value
of the ration. There is a great variation in quality of dried
citrus pulp. Bright pulp or meal is probably worth somewhat
more than dark colored meal or pulp that has been scorched
in processing.
Although there is no experimental data available, practical
experience indicates that citrus pulp has a somewhat higher
relative value in ground shelled corn than in ground snapped
corn rations. The fiber content of citrus pulp (approximately
11 percent) is of more importance in ground shelled than in
ground snapped corn rations, where the cob and shuck furnish
adequate roughage.
Cane Molasses.-At high levels in the ration, cane or black-
strap molasses has not given as satisfactory results as citrus
molasses (5, 6). Cane molasses is not as palatable as citrus, and
cattle fed large quantities of cane molasses often do not con-
sume enough total feed. At low levels, cane molasses has com-
pared more favorable with citrus molasses. Work at the Range
Cattle Station indicates that the two molasses are about equal
in value when fed in dried citrus pulp fattening rations (35).
According to Morrison, cane molasses is worth 72 percent as
much as corn when fed in combination with corn, but when fed
as the only concentrate, the molasses is worth only half as much
per pound as corn (40).
Grain Sorghums.-The grain sorghums are worth about 90
to 95 percent as much per ton as corn for fattening cattle (40).
Sorghum grain is comparable to shelled corn, and sorghum heads

Finishing Cattle in North Florida

are similar to snapped corn. Grain sorghums should be ground
or steam rolled for best results.
Oats.-Adding bulk to a low fiber concentrate, such as ground
shelled corn, would probably be the best means of utilizing oats
in cattle fattening rations in the Southeast. Oats are usually
too costly and too high in fiber to replace snapped corn in a
fattening ration. Adding a limited quantity (3.25 pounds per
head daily) of ground oats to a ground snapped corn-citrus mo-
lasses fattening ration resulted in lower feed intake and slower
gain in a recent North Florida Station trial (7). Apparently
the ground oats were too bulky and unpalatable for this type
of ration. Corn Belt experiments indicate that oats have a
higher value when added to a shelled corn ration (45).
Oats contain somewhat more protein than corn. It would
take about 1 pound less of 41 percent oil meal supplement to
furnish enough protein to balance 8 pounds of oats than to bal-
ance 8 pounds of ground shelled corn. Despite their higher
protein content, however, oats are probably worth only about
40 percent as much per bushel as corn for fattening cattle unless
there is a need for more bulk in the ration.
Calves may utilize whole oats efficiently, but for older cattle
it pays to grind or roll oats.
Rice Bran.-Rice bran is available occasionally at low cost
to Florida cattle feeders. It compares favorably with shelled
corn in feed value when replacing no more than 25 to 30 per-
cent of the corn, but it probably should not be fed in larger
amounts (36, 37, 46). Rice bran becomes rancid with age and,
consequently, should not be stored for long periods.

Protein Supplements
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.
Oil is removed from cottonseed in the production of oil meal
by two processes, hydraulic and solvent. Hydraulic processed
cottonseed meal usually contains 5 to 6 percent fat, while the
more efficient solvent process leaves only about 2 percent fat
in the oil meal. Many oil mills add low grade fat to the solvent
process meal to prevent dustiness.
Two grades of cottonseed meal are sold in Florida, containing

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations

36 and 41 percent crude protein. Unless prices of corn and
cottonseed meal are nearly equal, the 36 percent meal is prob-
ably worth about 90 percent as much as 41 percent cottonseed
Several years ago many cases of "cottonseed meal poisoning"
were reported as resulting from feeding large amounts of cotton-
seed meal. This condition has been found to be due to a defi-
ciency of vitamin A rather than to the toxicity of cottonseed
meal. Vitamin A is discussed more fully in the section on
Soybean Oil Meal.-Soybean meal is slightly superior to cot-
tonseed meal as a protein supplement for fattening cattle. A
recent trial at the North Florida Experiment Station supports
Morrison's estimate that soybean meal is worth several dollars
per ton more than cottonseed meal (23, 40). Not only is per-
formance of cattle fed soybean oil meal higher, but in addition,
soybean meal has the advantage of containing 3 percent more
total protein than the comparable grade of cottonseed meal.
Peanut Oil Meal.-In several experiments peanut oil meal
has proved equal to cottonseed and nearly equal to soybean oil
meal for fattening cattle; however, in other trials peanut meal
has been slightly inferior (34, 40). At the North Florida Sta-
tion, steers fed peanut oil meal as the protein supplement con-
sumed less feed, made slower gains, yielded lighter carcasses,
and produced lower grading carcasses than cattle fed cottonseed
meal (8, 9). A mixture of equal parts cottonseed and peanut oil
meals gave results similar to cottonseed meal alone. Because
of these results, it is recommended that peanut oil meal not be
used as the sole protein supplement for fattening cattle but
rather be mixed with at least an equal weight of cottonseed
meal. Fat in peanut oil meal becomes rancid in storage, partic-
ularly in hot weather.
Mixed Protein Supplements.-Mixtures of oil meals may give
slightly better results than single supplements in some instances
(40). For cattle fed to a moderate finish, however, it is doubt-
ful that an added cost for mixed supplements will pay in most
cases. Only in instances where a more palatable oil meal is
mixed with a less palatable, such as previously described with
peanut meal, is a multiple oil meal supplement generally advis-
able. Mixed supplements must contain as much total protein
as single supplements to make them comparable.

Finishing Cattle in North Florida

Alfalfa Meal.-Dehydrated alfalfa meal has been used to
only a limited extent by cattle feeders in the Southeast. Like-
wise, experimental data on the use of alfalfa meal in local rations
are lacking. Because of its relatively low protein content (ap-
proximately 17 percent), use of alfalfa meal strictly as a pro-
tein supplement cannot be justified since cost per unit of protein
would be prohibitive. Work at Nebraska, however, suggests
that dehydrated alfalfa meal may have a higher feeding value
than its protein content indicates (25, 45). High quality alfalfa
meal is an excellent source of phosphorus, is high in carotene
(which can be converted to vitamin A), and possibly contains
other beneficial factors. For example, Ohio experiments have
demonstrated the value of the mineral matter in alfalfa, espe-
cially in rations not containing molasses (28, 30).
Dehydrated alfalfa is available in pellet form and may be
fed as such or reground before mixing. If fed, it is suggested
that dehydrated alfalfa be used to furnish only part of the
supplementary protein. Work at Nebraska indicates that 1 to 3
pounds per head daily (or about 5 to 10 percent of the total
ration) improves the ration (25).
Urea.-Rumen bacteria can utilize nitrogen in urea to synthe-
size protein which is available to the ruminant. Urea is manu-
factured in large quantities, and as time passes, it is becoming
more competitive in price with oil meals. As a result, urea is
being more widely used, especially in commercial protein sup-
plements. Commercial protein supplements containing 60 to 65
percent protein (or protein equivalent) contain significant
amounts of urea. Also, molasses and other feeds containing
urea or other non-protein nitrogen are available.
The value of urea is affected by the amount of natural pro-
tein in the ration and the level of readily available carbohydrates.
Experimental work at Quincy and elsewhere has shown that
urea can be satisfactorily used in fattening rations to supply
half of the supplemental nitrogen (or protein equivalent) or
one third of the total nitrogen in the ration (4, 29, 31). Urea
should be thoroughly mixed with the remainder of the ration
to prevent overconsumption and to insure distribution through-
out the feed mixture. If an excessive quantity is consumed,
urea is toxic, and 0.25 pound administered directly into the
rumen will cause death. Because of this, urea should not be
fed at a level higher than 1 percent of the total ration. If in-

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations

cluded at a safe level and thoroughly mixed with the remainder
of the feed, there will be no harm from use of urea.
When deciding whether or not to feed urea, use the following
formulas in calculating relative costs:

Formula 1 Formula 2
100 pounds 41% cottonseed meal 200 pounds 41% cottonseed meal
15 pounds urea 262 - - -
85 pounds ground corn - - -
200 pounds total 200 pounds total

These two formulas are approximately equivalent. Addi-
tional corn (or other energy feed) must be used to compensate
for the energy loss when urea replaces oil meal. Particular
attention should be given to supplying adequate minerals when
urea is used.
Experience of cattle feeders as well as experimental evi-
dence suggests that fattening rations should generally contain
between 20 and 30 percent roughage (1, 26, 43, 45). Use of
more concentrated rations is receiving some attention, but there
are problems connected with use of extremely high-concentrate
feed mixtures. In most instances cattle feeders will obtain more
satisfactory results-from rations containing 20 to 30 percent
roughage. Digestive disturbances such as scours, founder, and
impaction will be less of a problem where adequate roughage
is fed; and cost of gain will usually be lower because of the
ability of cattle to efficiently utilize low cost roughages when
included at a level of 20 to 30 percent in the ration. If grass
hay is self-fed with a ground snapped corn molasses fattening
ration such as commonly fed in the north Florida area, roughage
intake of yearling steers will range from about 30 to 35 percent
of the total ration. The same type of ration with no hay will
contain approximately 20 percent roughage.
Grass Hay.-The improved pasture grasses, Coastal bermuda,
bahia, and pangola, are widely used for hay. Although high
quality grass hay can be made in north Florida, most of the hay
produced is of only fair quality because of poor curing weather.
Also, much of the hay produced is merely an accumulation of
surplus grass on summer pastures and is rather coarse and
Experiments at Quincy have shown that grass hay is gen-

Finishing Cattle in North Florida

erally too low in digestible nutrients adequately to winter calves
and yearling cattle without grain supplementation (10). For
supplying roughages in high grain fattening rations, however,
quality of hay is not as important as when used in wintering ra-
tions where the hay makes up a much greater part of the ration.
Pasture grass hay of the quality generally available in north
Florida is apparently satisfactory for self-feeding in fattening
Hay may be self-fed with ground snapped corn fattening ra-
tions if consumption of hay does not exceed about 10 percent of
the total ration (amount of hay intake that will maintain rough-
age level of about 30 percent including cobs and shucks in the
corn). Unless hay is of unusually high quality or in some
instances when Brahman type cattle are being fed (11, 12), self-
feeding hay will usually not result in excessive consumption. If
hay intake is too high, concentrate intake will be reduced, and
for best results it will be necessary to limit the quantity of hay
fed to fattening cattle. With ground shelled corn rations, hay
consumption will rarely be excessive; and in fact it is often
advisable to mix some type of roughage with ground shelled
corn rather than depend entirely on self-fed grass hay to main-
tain a desirable roughage intake.
Generally speaking, it does not pay to grind hay for cattle
unless it is necessary to increase consumption of unpalatable,
poor-quality hay or to facilitate handling or mixing with the
remainder of the ration (40, 45). Grinding or chopping does
not improve the digestibility of hay or of the total ration (45).
Because of the increase in mechanical handling and mixing of
feed and the demand for a suitable roughage to mix with ground
shelled corn, some cattle feeders in the Southeast need ground
hay in their rations. However, the grass hay produced locally
is very bulky, fibrous, and difficult to grind; and grinding hay
with present equipment appears too expensive.
Good quality grass hay has no more than 60 percent as much
energy value as ground snapped corn (40). Thus if ground
snapped corn is selling for $40 per ton, good grade hay would
be worth a maximum of $24 per ton. Although grass hay often
has slightly more protein than corn, it frequently has less energy
value than indicated above and for cattle fattening rations would
rarely be worth more than 60 percent as much as ground snapped
corn. Much grass hay produced in north Florida would have a
lower value.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations

Peanut Hay.-Peanut hay was the principal source of rough-
age in north Florida steer fattening rations prior to 1950. Be-
cause acreage allotments have prevented an increase in the pea-
nut crop and new harvesting methods have returned much of
the hay to the soil, peanut hay is no longer a major source of
roughage for beef cattle. When available, peanut hay is satis-
factory as roughage in fattening rations. Although quite vari-
able in quality due to a wide range of curing conditions, peanut
hay in the Southeast is usually worth as much as good quality
pasture grass hay (13). If leafy and properly cured, peanut
hay may approach alfalfa hay in value (40). Peanut hay is
easier to grind than grass hay and thus better suited to mixing
with grain.
Cottonseed Hulls.-Cottonseed hulls contain less than half
as much energy and only about 60 percent as much total digesti-
ble nutrients (TDN) as ground snapped corn, and the hulls have
practically no protein (40). Despite their low nutrient content,
however, cottonseed hulls have desirable physical properties for
providing bulk in cattle fattening rations. Hulls mix well with
a variety of feeds, are palatable in feed mixtures, and add
"springiness" (which many large cattle feeders think is impor-
tant in preventing digestive disorders) to the feed mixture.
Cottonseed hulls are especially valuable for providing bulk dur-
ing the first of the feeding period when cattle are being placed
on a full-feed of grain. Starting with about 30 to 40 percent
hulls in the feed mixture and gradually reducing the hulls until
the feed contains 20 to 30 percent total roughage after two or
three weeks will prevent most digestive disturbances. Use of
cottonseed hulls or other roughage mixed in the ration makes it
possible to control the concentrate-roughage content as the
feeding period progresses. If cottonseed hulls are the sole source
of roughage, vitamin A should be added to the ration.
Ground Cobs and Shucks.-When supplemented with adequate
protein, minerals, and Vitamin A, ground cobs and shucks have
given better results than north Florida grass hays for wintering
calves (14, 15). Cobs and shucks are also a good source of
roughage in fattening rations and make up 25 to 30 percent of
the total weight of snapped corn. Ground cobs and shucks may
be used in the same manner as previously recommended for
cottonseed hulls. Unfortunately the supply of this valuable
roughage is very limited in the Southeast.

Finishing Cattle in North Florida

Silage.-Silage is not popular with steer feeders in north
Florida. A number of Corn Belt studies have shown that a ton
of corn silage will replace approximately 250 pounds of shelled
corn and 615 pounds of roughage in a fattening ration (45).
This would be equivalent to about 360 pounds snapped corn and
505 pounds hay. With ground snapped corn at $40 per ton and
hay at $20, corn silage would be worth approximately $12.25
per ton. Grain sorghum silage is worth somewhat less per ton
than corn silage (40, 45).
Wintering studies at the North Florida Station indicate that
grain sorghum silage supplemented with protein and minerals
will give adequate but not economical calf gains when silage is
priced at $8 to $10 per ton (14, 15). In these trials grass silage
did not produce either satisfactory or economical winter gains
unless adequately supplemented with both protein concentrate
and a source of energy (16). In fact, for wintering calves grass
silage cut from pastures at the peak of the growing season was
inferior to rather mature grass hay cut in the early fall (14, 15).
Adding 20 pounds grain sorghum silage to a fattening ration
either during the first half or throughout the feeding period
failed to reduce the cost of gain (6).

Cool Season Pastures.-Winter and spring small grains and
clovers produce excellent gains with young cattle if weather
conditions permit forage growth. Small grains provide pasture
from about December 1 until late spring, while clovers furnish
grazing in March, April, and in some years in January and Feb-
ruary. Steer calves and light yearlings will gain 1.25 to 1.50
pounds per head daily or more on small grain pasture and often
gain 2.00 pounds per head daily during the short crimson clover
season (17). Of the small grain, rye gives more early grazing
and oats more late grazing. If the supply of forage is adequate,
cattle grazing oats will gain faster than those on rye; however,
higher carrying capacity usually permits grazing a greater num-
ber of cattle on a given acreage of rye. Gains per acre are
often similar from the two crops, although rye supplies more
forage in unusually cold seasons and is thus more depend-
able than oats. On the other hand, rye tends to mature
early during unseasonably warm winters and may not fur-
nish much spring grazing. An acre of well-fertilized rye will

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations

often winter two calves, but oats cannot be stocked this heavily
during December and January in most years. Supplementary
grain feeding on small grain pasture will be profitable only if
the stocking rate of the pasture is increased. Grain feeding on
oats pasture increases gains only slightly; and although the
boost in gains from grain feeding on rye is larger than on oats,
the increase is usually not large enough to pay for the grain
unless more cattle are carried on a given acreage as a result of
the supplemental feeding (17). If grain is fed on small grain
pasture, North Florida studies indicate that a limited allowance
of about 7.5 pounds per head daily results in higher returns
than a full-feed of grain on the pasture. A protein supplement
is probably not needed with grain supplement fed on either small
grain or clover pasture.
Summer Pastures.-Permanent bahia and Coastal bermuda
grasses furnish most of the summer grazing for steers in north
Florida. In most instances steer gains are slow on these per-
manent pastures, averaging less than 1.0 pound per head daily
unless grain supplement is fed (18). Bahia and Coastal bermuda
grasses produce a large quantity of forage if well-fertilized, but
the quality of the forage is usually so low that young cattle
cannot consume enough grass to make adequate gains. Winter
feeding trials with hay cut from permanent grass pastures
clearly show that lack of energy or total digestible nutrients is
the limiting factor (10). Feeding a grain supplement to young
cattle on permanent pasture resulted in more gain and higher
carrying capacity in North Florida Station trials (18). Results
indicate that at least 5 pounds grain per head daily should be
fed to yearling steers grazing permanent grass pasture.
In one trial, temporary millet pasture produced considerably
faster steer gains than permanent bahia pasture (18). Gahi
millet gave very satisfactory results with or without supple-
mentary grain feeding; and in 1962, steers that grazed millet
during the summer prior to finishing in dry lot averaged $10.43
higher net return than comparable steers that grazed Argentine
bahia before feedlot finishing. Millet fits well in a grazing
program following a winter small grain crop.
Finishing on Pasture.-Recent results at the North Florida
Station indicate that use of pasture prior to finishing cattle in
the feedlot may result in a saving of $10 to $12 per head-in the
cost of producing a 900 to 1,000 pound finished steer as com-
pared with straight drylot feeding (18). Despite greater econ-

Finishing Cattle in North Florida

omy of gain from pasture feeding, cattle need a period in dry-
lot to finish to the Good and Choice grades. Carcass grades and
yields are higher with cattle finished in drylot, and in addition,
drylot cattle have whiter fat color than pasture-fed steers. The
period of time required in drylot will depend on the age and
weight of the cattle, the flesh attained on pasture, and the
market grade desired, which will in turn depend on relative
market prices of the various grades of fat cattle. Generally
speaking, it appears that at least 90 days are needed in drylot
with cattle fed to the U. S. Good or higher grade, unless the
cattle are exceptionally fleshy when placed in the feedlot.


Season for Purchasing
Stocker-feeder cattle, particularly calves, are marketed in
largest numbers in the fall months, but the recent trend is for
more distribution of marketing throughout the year. Because
of the problems involved in providing facilities for handling and
the need for more capital, it is generally inadvisable for larger
operators to purchase all of their cattle at one season of the year.
Also, purchasing and/or selling at a particular time of year in-
volves a greater risk from a market price standpoint. Recently
cattle feeders have increased the practice of buying stocker-
feeders and selling fat cattle throughout the year. Only smaller
farmer-feeders, who feed cattle as a part of a farm operation,
continue to purchase at one time and market fat cattle at one
Type of Cattle to Purchase
Probably greater variation in type and quality of feeder
cattle is found in feedlots today than a few years ago. Need
for more feeder cattle because of the increase in cattle feeding
has forced feedlot operators to use plain as well as high quality
cattle. Also, the U. S. system of carcass grades is largely based
on quality or marbling in meat with less emphasis than formerly
on conformation. Pre-packaging of retail cuts for self-service
supermarkets now prevents the consumer from seeing the con-
formation of the carcass when buying meat. Cattle feeders have
found that plain cattle with relatively poor conformation may
fatten and deposit marbling in the meat as well as high quality
cattle in many instances. Because of greater uniformity and the

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations

need for enough conformation to satisfy the minimum require-
ments for a given carcass grade, better beef type cattle continue
to sell higher than poorer type cattle, but the premium for the
higher grades is smaller than formerly. Similarly, cattle feeders
attach less importance to things such as color markings and breed
characteristics than they did a few years ago. Probably the
best general recommendation is to purchase cattle with as much
beef type and quality as can be bought at a price that will allow
the needed margin between the cost of the feeders and the
expected sale price of the finished cattle. In other words, beef
type and quality will probably pay if the cost is not too high to
allow the necessary margin on the feeding operation (see section
on "Necessary Margin"). Feeder cattle may be divided into the
feeder grades: fancy, choice, good, medium, common, or cull;
but these grades are not as well defined as the slaughter
In addition to feeder grade, the condition of cattle at the
time of purchase is important. Thin cattle with plenty of growth
or "frame" are best for putting on grass or high roughage ra-
tions. Fleshy cattle may lose weight on hay and will not make
large gains on pasture. On the other hand, less time, gain, and
feed are required to finish cattle which are in good flesh when
The method of wintering stocker-feeder cattle depends on 1)
the age, weight, and condition of the cattle; 2) market prices
of feed; 3) weather conditions for growing winter pasture; 4)
market prices of cattle; and 5) feed program following winter-
ing. Younger, lighter cattle are more difficult to winter and
require higher quality feed or pasture than older, heavier cattle.
Calves should be wintered well enough to make some growth
and a winter gain of at least 50 to 100 pounds during the 100
to 120-day period. If cattle are to be grazed throughout the
following summer, they should not be fed for maximum winter
gain. Summer gain will be inversely proportional to preceding
winter gain (fast winter gains-slow summer gains, and vice
versa); and if cattle are too fleshy in the spring, they will not
gain well unless placed on a grain ration. It is obvious that
winter feed costs must not be higher than market prices of
cattle will justify. High feed prices and poor growing condi-
tions may make the cost of wintering prohibitive in some years.

Finishing Cattle in North Florida

When costs are considered, it is apparent that wintering prob-
lems in north Florida may be almost as great as those in areas
much farther north.
When weather conditions are favorable, small grain pastures
provide the best winter feed for all ages of cattle. Unfortu-
nately, however, moisture and temperature conditions are not
dependable, and the approximate per acre cost of $35 can make
small grain expensive winter feed in unfavorable years. Because
they are not too dependable, oats and/or rye should not be relied
on to furnish all the winter feed. Certainly small grain should
be grown by anyone wintering stocker cattle, but a reserve of
other feed is needed for years when winter pasture is short.
Some north Florida feeders follow the practice of planting an
acreage of small grain estimated to be adequate for half to two-
thirds of their cattle in favorable years and depend on harvested
feed for the remainder of their wintering needs. Any such
program for small grains would have to be worked out on an
individual basis. A discussion of relative merits of oats and rye,
carrying capacity, and supplementary feeding on small grain
pasture is contained in the preceding section on "Cool Season
Other reliable methods of wintering include: 1) the practice
of feeding a limited grain supplement on frost-killed grass pas-
ture, or 2) feeding a grain supplement with grass hay for rough-
age. Depending on the quality of roughage available, an allow-
ance of 5 to 10 pounds of grain per head daily has produced ade-
quate, economical growth and gains with calves and light yearling
cattle at the North Florida Experiment Station (17). From 1
to 11/2 pounds 41 percent oil meal or equivalent supplement
should be included in the grain allowance. If clover becomes
available in the pasture, protein supplement will not be needed.

As previously mentioned, cattle will attain a higher finish in
drylot on a grain ration than they will attain on pasture with
or without grain feeding. Cattle finished in drylot usually sell
for a somewhat higher price than pasture finished cattle of
the same weight and quality, primarily because of the higher
carcass yield and grade and whiter fat color of drylot fattened
cattle. Consequently, a finishing period in drylot after cattle
are pastured is usually profitable (18).

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations

Yearling steers that are pastured without grain supplement
generally gain slowly on pasture after they reach weights of
700 to 750 pounds. If grain supplement is fed on pasture, year-
lings may continue to gain well until they weigh 800 to 850
pounds. After maximum pasture gains are over, it is usually
advisable to place the cattle in the feedlot on a full-feed of
grain until they reach the desired finish. Because of variation
in performance of stocker-feeder cattle, all cattle will not be
ready for the feedlot at the same age or after the same length
of time on pasture, and it is usually advisable to sort out the
heavier, fleshier pasture steers in convenient size groups as
they become ready for the feedlot.

Placing Cattle Directly on Feed
Because of the higher cost of feeding cattle entirely in dry-
lot compared with those pastured for part of the feeding period,
more margin between purchase and sale prices is needed for
cattle placed directly on feed in drylot with no grazing. Margin
is more fully discussed in the subsequent section on "Necessary
Margin." Whether or not cattle are pastured, it is generally
desirable to limit drylot fattening to the shortest period that
will give the desired degree of finish or grade.


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 get part of their energy from roughage and protein sup-
plement. When an excessive amount of protein supplement is
fed, the excess is used for energy.
After the needs for 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 avail-
able for fattening after maintenance (or overhead). Grains and
other concentrates are high in energy value and roughages are

Finishing Cattle in North Florida

relatively low. Consequently, if the ration contains too much
roughage, less energy will be left for fattening after mainte-
nance needs are satisfied. Since cattle are ruminants, they can
utilize a certain amount of roughage efficiently even in a high-
energy fattening ration; and too, a certain level of roughage is
needed to prevent digestive disturbances. Levels of 20 to 30
percent roughage and 70 to 80 percent concentrates generally
give best results in fattening rations under practical conditions.
Higher concentrate rations are currently receiving much public-
ity, but researchers concede that rations containing 10 percent
or less roughage are still in the experimental stage.
Protein.-Protein is needed for replacing worn-out body cells,
for growth of muscular tissue, for various body fluids such as
blood and digestive juices, and for other body functions. With-
out adequate 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 balance the ration.
During growth protein needs are high; the younger cattle
are, the higher the percentage of protein needed in the ration.
More pounds of protein per day are required as weight increases.
Perhaps the most practical approach to this problem is to feed
about the same daily weight allowance of protein supplement to
all ages of cattle throughout the fattening period. Heavier
cattle will usually eat more total feed than lighter cattle and
thus get more pounds of protein from sources other than protein
concentrates; but with larger total feed intake, percentage of
protein supplement in the ration will be lower because of greater
consumption of other ration ingredients. Fattening rations
should contain at least 10 percent total protein.
Minerals.-Fourteen and possibly more mineral elements are
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 probably present in adequate quantities in Florida
feeds. Salt is always lacking, and calcium and possibly phos-
phorus may be deficient in drylot fattening rations. Since citrus
molasses and pulp are high in calcium and cottonseed meal is a
good source of phosphorus, Florida fattening rations may not
require any mineral supplement except salt.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations

At the North Florida Station steers in drylot 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 bonemeal
is a good source of both. While consumption is quite variable,
neither salt nor bonemeal intake often exceeds 0.25 percent of
the total feed.
If high levels of molasses or citrus pulp are fed, it is sug-
gested that very palatable commercial mineral mixtures not be
self-fed and that mineral supplements not be mixed in the ration
at levels of more than 0.5 percent of the total feed. Although
a definite cause and effect relationship has not been demonstrated,
urinary calculi (kidney stones) have been observed in north
Florida feedlots where either palatable commercial mineral mixes
were self-fed or minerals were mixed with the feed in excessive
amounts. No case of urinary calculi has been seen in feedlot
cattle where the aforementioned practice of self-feeding salt
and bonemeal separately was followed. Heavy salt feeding may
stimulate water consumption, which may help prevent calculi
Vitamins.-Vitamin A is the vitamin most likely to be lack-
ing in drylot rations. In the past, feeding bright green hay
or silage has been considered a reliable means of providing ade-
quate carotene which could be converted to vitamin A. Yellow
corn is also a fair source of carotene. Recently vitamin A defi-
ciencies have occurred in cattle fed rations which were formerly
thought to contain sufficient carotene (38, 41). Even where actual
deficiencies have not been evident, cattle fed these rations have
in many instances responded to additions of vitamin A. Appar-
ently something, possibly nitrate from heavy fertilization, is
either destroying carotene in many feeds or else is preventing
conversion of carotene to vitamin A by the animal. Fortunately
vitamin A is inexpensive, and it is suggested that most drylot
rations should contain from 10,000 to 25,000 International Units
of vitamin A per head daily. Workers at Purdue think that
vitamin A helps cattle withstand heat and may also help prevent
urinary calculi formation (41).
Feed Additives.-With the exception of vitamin A which has
been previously discussed, only two feed additives, diethylstil-
bestrol and antibiotics, appear at this time to have a place in
north Florida cattle rations. Either oral administration of 10

Finishing Cattle in North Florida 21

mg per head daily of stilbestrol in the ration or ear implanting
24 or 36 mg at the beginning of the feedlot finishing period
has given an increase in gain, improvement in feed efficiency,
and a boost in economic returns in North Florida trials as well
as those at other stations throughout the nation (19, 20). Re-
sults at Quincy indicate that stilbestrol should not be used until
cattle are placed in the feedlot on a full-feed of grain. Gain
response from stilbestrol on pasture was not great enough to
offset lowering of grade from severe side effects, which were
greater in pasture than in drylot steers. Heifers have not shown
consistent improvement in gain from stilbestrol and are much
more likely to develop harmful side effects such as prolapse of
the uterus and greater prominence of hook bones and tailheads.
Progesterone-estradiol ("Synovex") implants have given similar
results to those from stilbestrol but are more expensive than
stilbestrol (9).
A broad spectrum antibiotic, such as aureomycin or terra-
mycin, may be fed at low level (70 mg per head daily) through-
out the feeding period or administered at therapeutic level (about
350 mg per head daily) for 5 to 30 days at the beginning of the
feeding period. Low level feeding is a means of preventing dis-
ease while the therapeutic level is for use where disease outbreak,
such as shipping fever in newly purchased cattle, is present or
imminent. In North Florida trials low level feeding of aureo-
mycin or terramycin did not result in greater steer gain, but
steers fed antibiotics did have slightly heavier carcasses than
those with no antibiotic (6, 7). Possibly the cattle in the North
Florida trials were healthy and free of disease; and also they
were fed a fairly high concentrate (about 70 percent) ration.
Results at other locations have shown greater response to low
level antibiotic feeding, especially with cattle fed high roughage
rations (42). Therapeutic levels of antibiotics have given dra-
matic responses in north Florida feedlots where outbreak of
disease or digestive disturbance occurred.

Feeding Steers
Starting on Feed.-Cattle 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 scour,
go off feed, or may founder.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


Feed Pounds per Head Daily Percent per Ton

Ground snapped corn
Citrus molasses
41% cottonseed meal
Grass hay or cottonseed hulls
Vitamin A
Salt and steamed bonemeal*

Ground snapped corn or citrus
Ground shelled corn
Citrus molasses
41% cottonseed meal
Grass hay or cottonseed hulls
Vitamin A
Salt and steamed bonemeal*

Ground shelled corn
Citrus molasses
41% cottonseed meal
Cottonseed hulls
Vitamin A
Steamed bonemeal*

Ground snapped corn
Citrus molasses
41% cottorseed meal
Urea "262"
Grass hay or cottonseed hulls
Vitamin A
Salt and steamed bonemeal*

15 to 20
5 to 8
0 to 2.5
25,000 I.U.

25.00 to 30.00

25,000 I.U.

25,000 I.U.

25.000 I.U.


60 to 67 1200 to 1340
20 to 25 400 to 500
10 to 8 200 to 160
10 to 0 200 to 0

100.00 2000
30 600

30 600
20 400
10 200
10 200

100.00 2000
50 1000
20 400
10 200
20 400

.....- .... ............... ..

100.00 2005
64.0 1280
20.0 400
5.2 104
0.8 16
10.0 200

100.00 2000

Either defluorinated superphosphate or dicalcium phosphate may be substituted for
steamed bonemeal.

There are two satisfactory methods of starting cattle 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 hav with the
grain, gradually increasing the proportion of grain and reducing
the proportion of roughage. The latter method is used by large
feedlot operators who generally mix the entire ration; Cattle

Finishing Cattle in North Florida

are often started on a mixture containing 40 to 60 percent
roughage with the proportion of roughage being reduced at inter-
vals until only 10 to 15 percent roughage is in the mixture at
the end of the finishing period. Very few feeders feed a ration
averaging less than 20 to 30 percent roughage throughout the
entire feeding period because of the danger of digestive disturb-
ances when there is less than 20 percent roughage in the feed
mixture. If a high concentrate-low roughage ration is fed, it is
essential to keep fresh feed before cattle at all times so that
they will not become hungry enough to overeat when feed is
available. In calculating the percentage of concentrates and
roughage in a mixture, ground snapped corn should be consid-
ered 70 to 75 percent concentrate and 25 to 30 percent roughage
because of the cobs and shucks. Citrus pulp has a fiber content
similar to that of ground snapped corn and would thus have
about the same percentage of roughage.
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
vary from time to time and from one locality to another; feeds
vary somewhat from year to year; and other variables influence
feed consumption. Recommendations can be made, but skillful
cattle feeders adjust their method of feeding to fit each partic-
ular group of cattle. Perhaps the best general recommendation
is to take at least two to three weeks in increasing the grain
ration of steers to full-feed. Cattle are considered to be on a
full-feed 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).
Finishing Period.-Calves and yearlings usually will consume
each day a quantity of feed (concentrates plus roughage) equal
in weight to 3 percent or more of their live weight. There is
considerable variation among cattle in this respect, and as pre-
viously indicated, the type of ration will influence feed intake.
Results at the North Florida Station indicate that cattle will
maintain maximum feed intake if fed 70 to 80 percent concen-
trate rations; both higher concentrate and higher roughage
rations will be consumed in smaller amounts (1). Quality of
ingredients, however, will influence feed intake as much or more
than proportion of concentrates and roughage. It is very desir-
able to give fattening cattle all they will eat. Roughly 40 to 50

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations

percent 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.
Frequency of feeding is a problem that has not been com-
pletely solved. Recent Illinois trials indicate that feeding several
times daily is preferable to once or twice-a-day feeding (39).
Similarly, large feedlot operators in the West think that feeding
several times daily is advantageous, particularly during hot
weather or when spoilage is a problem with feeds such as green
chop. The type of ration fed may be very important in deciding
how often to feed. For example, at the North Florida Station
feeding once daily all of a ground snapped corn citrus molasses
ration that cattle would clean up in 24 hours gave similar results
to feeding the same ration twice daily (9). Perhaps the best
recommendation is to let feed intake determine whether or not
it is desirable to feed more frequently. If cattle consume as
much feed as can reasonably be expected, it probably will not be
advantageous to feed more often, but if there is doubt that
cattle are eating enough, try more frequent feeding. Unless a
feeder is equipped to feed mechanically, it probably will not be
profitable to feed more often than twice daily because of the
excessive labor cost. It apparently makes little difference what
hours cattle are fed so long as they are fed at the same time
each day; but regularity is essential.

Feed Required

Generally speaking, there is not much difference in the quan-
tities of grain required to finish steers of different ages with
about the same initial condition. For example, calves eat less
feed per day than yearlings, but the calves must be fed longer to
reach the same slaughter grade.
Because of their smaller maintenance requirement, ability to
eat more in relation to their live weight, and the fact that a
greater proportion of their gain is growth, calves make more
efficient gains than older cattle. In a Nebraska experiment year-
lings required 25 percent more feed and two year olds 50 percent
more feed per 100 pounds gain than calves (27). These differ-
ences may be larger than many feeders find, but they do illus-
trate the effect of age on efficiency of gain.
Following are estimated pounds of feed required per 100
pounds steer gain in drylot, using feeds commonly fed in north

Finishing Cattle in North Florida

Florida. These estimates are based on feeding trials conducted
at the North Florida Experiment Station.

Ration I Calves Yearlings
Ground snapped corn 675 795
Citrus molasses 185 225
41% cottonseed meal 110 115
Grass hay or cottonseed hulls 110 115
Total 1080 1250

Ration II Calves Yearlings
Ground snapped corn 320 370
Ground shelled corn 320 370
Citrus molasses 180 220
41% cottonseed meal 105 110
Grass hay or cottonseed hulls 125 145
Total 1050 1215

Ration III Calves Yearlings
Ground shelled corn 555 650
Citrus molasses 185 225
41% cottonseed meal 110 115
Grass hay or cottonseed hulls 135 150
Total 985 1140

Gain Required to Finish
Less gain is required to finish cattle as they get older. Calves
use more of their feed for growth and consequently 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 as well as the age
of the steer when started on feed. In a few instances heavy
fleshy cattle off pasture at the North Florida Station have
attained the U. S. Good grade after gaining only about 100 to
150 pounds in the feedlot. Thinner yearling feeder steers of
the 700 to 750 pound weights ordinarily started on feed require
approximately 250 pounds gain or more to bring them to a
comparable degree of finish. Generally speaking, good grade
feeder cattle will reach the U. S. Good slaughter grade after
making approximately the following total gains.

Age Approximate Pounds Gain Required
Calf 350
Yearling 250
Two-year-old 200

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations

Heifers versus Steers
Heifer gains are slower and more costly than steer gains
when both are fed for the same length of time. Heifers grow
more slowly than steers and a greater proportion of their gain
is fat, which is more expensive than lean to produce. Because
of the problem of pregnancy and the tendency of heifers to
mature more rapidly than steers, heifers often develop undesir-
able characteristics such as large middles and prominent hook
bones, particularly if they are fed for an extended period of
time. For these reasons heifers are usually fed for shorter
periods and marketed at lighter weights than steers. Shorter
time on feed and lighter market weight of heifers may offset
some of the disadvantage in efficiency of gain as compared with
As previously mentioned, heifers mature more quickly and
consequently finish sooner than steers, particularly when fed as
calves. 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. Heifer carcasses generally have
more internal fat and may be slightly less desirable than those
of steers of comparable weight and finish.
Open heifers repeatably come in heat, thereby creating dis-
turbances in the feedlot. These disturbances are usually greater
early in the feeding period or when steers and heifers are fed in
the same lot. Results of an Illinois study justify the practice of
breeding full-fed yearling heifers in the feedlot three or four
months before they are to be marketed. (45). Evidences of
pregnancy become clearly apparent by the end of the fifth
month. Nebraska trials indicate that spaying heifers is not
profitable because of slower growth and development of spayed
heifers (45).
Since stilbestrol is a synthetic female hormone, it probably
does not stimulate gain in heifers as it does in steers; and it
may cause severe side effects, such as prolapse of the uterus, in
heifers. There is a hormone implant especially designed for
heifers and sold under the trade name "Synovex-H", which may
have some value.

Type of Feeder Cattle
Conformation of feeder cattle apparently has little influence
on rate of gain, but conformation does have value in determining

Finishing Cattle in North Florida

carcass grade of fat cattle. There are minimum conformation
requirements for the various carcass grades. Although a greater
degree of marbling may offset a slight deficiency in conformation,
carcasses must have beef type conformation to be eligible for
the three top grades of Prime, Choice, or Good. The higher the
carcass grade, the higher the conformation requirement.
The most profitable grade of cattle to feed will depend on
market conditions. In some years Standard grade fat cattle may
be selling relatively high and thus medium feeders may be more
profitable, while in other years Choice steers may be more desir-
able. Generally speaking, feeding lower grade cattle is more
speculative and thus better adapted to short term feeding pro-
grams; higher quality cattle usually give better returns in longer
term feeding.
Light weight calves finished in the feedlot to live weights of
475 to 550 pounds, depending on the area of the country, enjoy
a limited demand. At present most light weight feeder calves
in the Southeast come from poorer range areas in peninsula
Florida and weigh only 200 to 300 pounds when placed on full-
feed in the feedlot. Although the majority of these calves have
considerable Brahman breeding, some British breed calves, par-
ticularly heifers, are fed.

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
but decreases with condition 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, cost 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, espe-
cially 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 cattle decreases rapidly when they fatten.

Necessary Margin
Profit from fattening cattle entirely in drylot generally de-
pends on selling the original weight for more than it cost,

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations

because gain in drylot 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 feeding operation is to be financially successful. The differ-
ence in price per hundredweight between fat and feeder cattle
needed to "break even" is known as the necessary margin. Cattle
feeders in the Southeast often use the term "spread" rather
than margin.
Cattle fed entirely in drylot generally need a margin of at
least $2.00 per hundredweight between cost of feeder and sale
price of fat cattle. A margin of $3.00 per hundredweight will
usually allow a modest profit on the feeding operation. Level of
market prices of fat and feeder cattle, feed costs, amount of
gain, and feed efficiency are among the factors affecting the nec-
essary margin. Because of their economical gain and higher
cost per pound, calves often require less margin than older cattle;
however, the longer feeding period required by calves may offset
their advantage of more economical gain. Other factors being
equal, heavy cattle require less margin than light cattle because
of the larger number of pounds of original weight on which to
have a margin.
Because pasture gains are less expensive than feedlot gains,
cattle grazed for a considerable period before finishing in dry-
lot normally require less margin than cattle fed entirely in dry-
lot. If the total pasture gain is large enough, it may be possible
to profitably sell the fat cattle for the same or a lower price
per hundredweight than they cost as stockers. The total amount
of low cost gain rather than the rate of gain is the important
Dressing Percentage or Carcass Yield
Dressing percentage or carcass yield is the percentage of
carcass weight of the live weight at slaughter. It is based on
actual market weight on foot and either chilled carcass weight
or warm carcass weight less 2 to 21/2 percent shrink. Carcass
yield depends primarily on 1) the amount of fill in the digestive
tract of the live cattle, and 2) amount of finish or fat on the
carcass. Estimated carcass yield and carcass grade determine
the price per hundredweight that a packer will pay for fat
Good quality yearling cattle slaughtered directly off pasture
with no grain supplement will usually yield 50 to 52 percent

Finishing Cattle in North Florida

(18). Depending on the amount of supplementation, cattle fat-
tened on grain-on-grass will yield 53 to 57 percent. Steers fat-
tened to the U. S. Standard grade in drylot will normally yield
about 56 to 58 percent; U. S. Good grade steers out of the feedlot
will yield 58 to 60 percent; and U. S. Choice grade feedlot steers
usually yield 60 percent or higher. Cattle fattened on high con-
centrate rations generally yield more than those on higher rough-
age rations (1). Of course the foregoing carcass yields are only
rough approximations since there are wide variations in cattle,
feeding programs, and handling and weighing conditions.

Sale Weight
Cattle are customarily sold on the basis of shrunk live weight.
When hauled for a considerable distance to market, there is an
actual shrinkage. In this case the sale weight is generally the
actual weight on foot. However, if the cattle are weighed on
the farm or hauled for only a short distance, a calculated shrink
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 Southeast, 3 percent is ordinarily deducted from
early morning weights of short-hauled cattle. In the far West,
feed yard operators normally give 5 percent shrink from early
morning weights of cattle sold and weighed at the feedlot (21);
or if the cattle are sorted or held off feed for an hour before
weighing, only 4 percent shrink is deducted.
Early morning weights of cattle are more reliable than those
taken later in the day. Afternoon weights are considerably
heavier than morning weights because of fill, mostly water, ac-
quired during the day. Buyers must compensate for fill by
reducing the price per hundredweight, and usually they over-
compensate if the fill appears to be excessive. This is under-
standable since cattle may drink as much as 100 to 140 pounds
of water per day (23), most of which is apparently consumed
during daylight hours after the cattle are fed. It can easily be
seen how variations in fill can markedly influence on foot values
of cattle. Experience has shown that it is to the seller's advan-
tage to weigh his cattle early in the day when fill is not excessive
and weights are more reliable. In fact, commercial feedlot
operators normally weigh all cattle by 9:00 a.m.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations

Market Demand
The greatest demand is for finished cattle that will have
carcasses weighing 550 to 650 pounds and grading U. S. Good or
U. S. Choice. These are the weights and grades of beef which
have increased so much in popularity throughout the United
States in the last decade and which are desired by most grocery
chains. Carcasses of these weights and grades have enough
quality and marbling in the meat to satisfy most consumers but
do not usually have the excessive external and internal fat of
heavier Choice and Prime carcasses, which are in only limited
demand by a relatively few special customers. Considerable
demand for U. S. Standard grade beef also exists in the South-
east, but packers and chain store buyers report that demand
for Standard carcasses is decreasing in comparison to that for
Good and Choice carcasses.
Producing carcasses of desired weights and grades requires
950 to 1050 pound steers that have been fed for at least 90 to
120 days on full-feed of grain in the feedlot. Unless feeder
cattle are heavy and fleshy when placed in the feedlot, a longer
period will be required to feed cattle to the Choice grade.
Demand also exists for a limited number of light weight or
so called "heavy veal" calves finished at live weights of 475 to
550 pounds so that they can be slaughtered on a calf rail and
shipped with the hide on the carcass. These carcasses are not
as much in demand in the Southeast as in the Far West, where
large numbers are fed.
It is estimated that Florida produces only about 20 percent
of the better grades of beef consumed in the state. The remain-
ing 80 percent is shipped in from other areas, mainly from the
Facilities for Feeding
Pens, feed troughs, water troughs, and hay racks (if long
hay is fed as roughage) are needed for fattening cattle. Feed-
ing may be done either under shelter or in the open. In the
latter case, troughs should be sheltered in the Southeast, and
provision should be made to keep the cattle out of the mud either
by paving the lot or by allowing enough pen space to prevent
miring. Locating open feedlots on hillsides and on sandy, well-
drained soils will help prevent a mud problem. Cattle in the
shade tobacco area of north Florida are fed under shelter to
conserve manure.

Finishing Cattle in North Florida

Trough Space.-From 11/2 to 2 feet of trough space is desir-
able for fattening steers; however, if feed is kept in the trough
at all times, less space may be needed. 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, it is desirable to confine them to the smallest area that
will not become excessively muddy in wet weather. Minimum
pen space discourages exercise, which requires feed energy that
should be used for weight gain. Open feedlots located on well
drained hillsides in Florida allow 1,200 to 1,800 square feet per
steer or about 24 to 36 steers per acre of pen space. Shade
should be provided in summer months.
Fan for Cooling Cattle.-In four trials at the North Florida
Station, there was a slight advantage from using a fan with
cattle fattened in well-ventilated barns when air temperatures
exceeded 750 (22, 23, 24). Further work is needed, however,
before the practice can be generally recommended.

Vaccination.-Because of the possibility that stocker-feeder
cattle have not been vaccinated against blackleg, it is advisable
to administer blackleg bacterin on arrival. Triple bacterin
blacklegg, hemorrhagic septicemia, and malignant edema) is
often used.
Increasing concentration of feedlot cattle throughout the
country appears to be resulting in a greater problem with respi-
ratory diseases, commonly referred to as "shipping fever".
Because of the complex nature of the disease problem with
shipped-in cattle and the increasing incidence of virus diseases,
it may become necessary to start immunization programs for
control of such diseases as infectious bovine rhinotracheitis
(IBR) which are already a problem in other feeding areas.
Antibiotics.-Penicillin, other antibiotics, or mixed antibiot-
ics are often administered to protect newly arrived cattle until
they have recovered from shipping. Additional doses are given
if sickness occurs; and high level (350 mg daily) aureomycin or
terramycin feeding for 5 to 30 days may be effective against
respiratory diseases.
Internal Parasites.-Oral administration of phenothiazine is
widely used to control internal parasites. A dosage of 20 gm

Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations

phenothiazine per 100 pounds body weight with a maximum of
60 gm, or 2 ounces, regardless of weight is usually recommended
for control of roundworms and other common gastro-intestinal
parasites. Phenothiazine may be administered as a drench, a
bolus, or by mixing with feed, although the latter method may
not result in a uniform dosage and is not recommended by some
authorities. Because of the likelihood of higher incidence of
respiratory illness, it is not advisable to give phenothiazine until
cattle have recovered from shipping.
New systemic compounds, Co-Ral, Ruelene, and Trolene, have
proven effective in controlling cattle grubs. Trolene is adminis-
tered as a bolus, while either Co-Ral or Ruelene may be sprayed
on at 0.5 percent strength, using about 1 gallon of spray per
head (spray to point of run off). Pouring on the backs of cattle
1/2 pint of either 4 percent Co-Ral or 8.3 percent Ruelene in water
is also effective. Do not use Co-Ral within 7 days or Ruelene
within 28 days of slaughter. Systemic grubicides give best
results if applied as soon as the heel fly season ends. Later
applications are not as effective, and when the grubs begin to
appear in the back, systemics are of little value. There is also
evidence that systemics are partially effective in controlling both
gastro-intestinal parasites and external parasites such as lice.
External Parasites.-Horn flies are easily controlled by spray-
ing with toxaphene or methoxychlor (44). A concentration in
water of 0.5 percent actual insecticide in wettable powder form
will control horn flies, and if 0.25 percent lindane is also included,
lice can be controlled. Commercial preparations in emulsion
form are widely used, especially to control lice. Directions for
diluting an emulsion are always given on the label.
Various commercial organic phosphatic compounds used as
either sprays or baits are giving good control of house flies
around feedlots.
North Florida cattle feeders are now fattening a consider-
able number of steers in drylot each year. Fattening rations
consist of either locally produced or shipped-in corn, citrus mo-
lasses from Florida plants, oil meal from Southeastern mills, and
either locally produced hay or cottonseed hulls from the oil
Many cattle graze improved pasture before finishing in dry-
lot on a full-feed of grain. Cool season plants, such as small

Finishing Cattle in North Florida 33

grains and clovers, give excellent cattle gains; but summer per-
manent pastures do not produce fast gains with young cattle.
Supplementing permanent pasture with grain and using tempo-
rary summer pastures, such as millet, offer some promise of
increasing returns from pasturing stocker-feeder cattle.
Because of higher market prices paid for grain-fed cattle,
it is usually profitable to finish cattle in drylot after they are
removed from pasture.


1. Baker, F. S., Jr. Amount of roughage in steer fattening rations.
Paper presented to Beef Cattle Short Course, Gainesville, Florida,
2. .Use of citrus molasses and urea in steer fattening
rations. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. An. Rpt. 1958:329.
3. Citrus molasses in steer fattening rations. Fla.
Agr. Exp. Sta. Circ. S-22. 1950.
4. Steer fattening trials in north Florida. Fla. Agr.
Exp. Sta. Circ. S-89. 1955.
5. Steer fattening program for north Florida. North
Fla. Exp. Sta. Mimeo. Rpt. 56-6. 1956.
6. Steer fattening trial at North Florida Station.
North Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Mimeo Rpt. 56-7. 1956.
7. Citrus molasses, blackstrap molasses, oats, stilbes-
trol, terramycin, and aureomycin in steer fattening rations. North
Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Mimeo Rpt. 56-3. 1956.
8. --. Steer fattening trial at the North Florida Experi-
ment Station. North Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Mimeo. Rpt. 58-3. 1958.
9. ---. Steer fattening trial at the North Florida Experi-
ment Station. North Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Mimeo Rpt. 59-1. 1958.
10. -. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. An. Rpts. 1959: 335 and 1960:
11. Hybrid calf fattening trial. North Fla. Exp. Sta.
Mimeo Rpt. 61-5. 1961.
12. Feedlot performance and carcass characteristics of
Brahman-European crossbred and Angus calves. North Fla. Agr. Exp.
Sta. Mimeo Rpt. 62-10. 1962.
13. Roughage for maintenance and growth of beef
cattle in Florida. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Prog. Rpt. 1953.
14. -. Roughages for wintering calves. North Fla. Agr.
Exp. Sta. Mimeo Rpt. 57-11. 1957.
15. Wintering stocker cattle. North Fla. Agr. Exp.
Sta. Mimeo Rpt. 58-5. 1958.
16. Roughages for maintenance and growth of beef
cattle in Florida. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Prog. Rpt. 1956.

34 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations

17. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Prog. Rpts. 1957-1962.
18. .Fattening steers in drylot and in pasture. North
Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Mimeo Rpts. 62-5, 1962 and 63-7, 1963.
19. The use of stilbestrol with fattening steers. Mas-
ter's Thesis Univ. of Fla. 1957.
20. Stilbestrol implants for steers on pasture and in
feedlot. North Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Mimeo Rpt. 60-5. 1960.
21. Observations on cattle feeding in Southern Cali-
fornia Arizona area in March 1962. North Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Mimeo
Rpt. 6-28-62.
22. Baker, F. S., Jr. and E. S. Holmes. Steer fattening trial at the North
Florida Experiment Station. NFES Mimeo Rpt. 58-2. 1957.
23. Steer fattening experiment at the North Florida
Experiment Station. North Fla. Exp. Sta. Mimeo Rpt. 59-3. 1959.
24. Unpublished data. 1962.
25. Baker, M. L., H. H. Arthaud, and E. Ruby. Nebraska Cattle Rpt.
190. 1947.
26. Beardsley, D. W., W. C. McCormick, and B. L. Southwell. Steer per-
formance on and rumen effects of different concentrate: roughage
ratios in pelleted and unpelleted mixed fattening rations. J. An. Sci.
18:1507. 1959.
27. Beresford, R. 151 questions on cattle feeding and marketing. Ia. Agr.
Exp. Sta. Bull. P. 99:330 (abstract). 1949.
28. Bentley, O. G., E. W. Klosterman, and A. L. Moxon. Supplements to
poor quality hay for fattening cattle. J. An. Sci. 11:757. 1952.
29. Briggs, H. M., W. D. Gallup, A. E. Darlow, D. F. Stephens and C.
Kinney. Urea as an extender of protein when fed to cattle. J. An.
Sci. 6:445. 1947.
30. Burroughs, W., P. Gerlaugh, and R. M. Bethke. The influence of alfalfa
hay and fractions of alfalfa hay upon digestion of ground corncobs.
J. An. Sci. 9:207. 1950.
31. Culbertson, C. C., P. S. Shearer, W. E. Hammond, and S. Moore.
Protein supplements with and without molasses for fattening yearling
steers. Ia. Agr. Exp. Sta. A. H. Lflt. 176. 1950.
32. Hentges, J. F., Jr., M. Cabezas, A. Z. Palmer, and J. W. Carpenter.
Effect of physical form of corn on cattle response. J. An. Sci. 20:935
(abstract). 1961.
33. Jones, J. M., R. A. Hall, E. M. Neal, and J. H. Jones. Dried citrus
pulp in beef cattle fattening rations. Tex. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull. 613.
34. 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 supple-
ments in rations for fattening steers. Tex. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull. 685.
35. Kirk, W. G., E. M. Kelly, H. J. Fulford, and H. E. Henderson. Feeding
value of citrus and blackstrap molasses for fattening cattle. Fla. Agr.
Exp. Sta. Bull. 575. 1956.

Finishing Cattle in North Florida 35

36. Knox, J. H., J. H. Jones, and J. M. Jones. Rice bran in rations for
fattening yearling steers. Tex. Agr. Exp. Sta. Cattle Feeding Series
19. 1935.
37. Knox, J. H., J. H. Jones, and J. M. Jones. Rice bran as a part of the
grain ration for fattening steers. Tex. Agr. Exp. Sta. Cattle Feeding
Series 11. 1933.
38. Mitchell, G. E., Jr., A. L. Neumann, R. R. Garrigus, W. M. Durdle,
and K. A. Kendall. Observations on vitamin A deficiency in feed-lot
steers. Ill. Agr. Exp. Sta. Feeder's Day Rpt. 1960:12.
39. Mohrman, R. K., A. L. Neumann, G. E. Mitchell, Jr., and W. W. Albert.
Effect of hand-feeding, self-feeding, and frequent interval feeding of
beef cattle. Ill. Agr. Exp. Sta. Cattle Feeder's Day Rpt. 1960:15.
40. Morrison, F. B. Feeds and Feeding, 22nd ed. Morrison Publishing
Co. 1956.
41. Perry, T. W., W. M. Beeson, M. T. Mohler, and W. H. Smith. Levels
of supplemental vitamin A with and without sun-cured alfalfa meal
for fattening steer calves. J. An. Sci. 21: 333. 1962.
42. Perry, T. W., W. M. Beeson, E. C. Hornback, and W. T. Mohler. Aure-
omycin for growing and fattening beef animals. J. An. Sci. 13: 3.
43. Richardson, D., E. F. Smith, F. H. Baker, and R. F. Cox. Effects of
roughage-concentrate ratio in cattle fattening rations on gains, feed
efficiency, digestion, and carcass. J. An. Sci. 20: 316. 1961.
44. Rhoades, W. C., and F. S. Baker, Jr. Hornfly control. Fla. Agr. Exp.
Sta. An. Rpt. 1950: 221.
45. Snapp, R. R., and A. L. Neumann. Beef cattle, 5th ed. John Wiley
and Sons, Inc. 1960.
46. Tex. Agr. Exp. Sta. Beef Cattle Investigations in Texas 1888-1950.
Tex. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull. 724: 38. 1950.


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
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