S ONA AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH CENTER / / *
RESEARCH REPORT 75-5 March, 1975
RESEARCH RESULTS FROM AND FpSHI
CALVES AND YEARLINGS IN S CEN FLO A
H. L. Chapman, Jr. and loReacock /
The rapid decrease in cattle prices during 197 5 ed with inflated
production costs, resulted in a decreased demand for F da calves by the
feedlot industry. Many of the 1974 calves are still on ranches in south and
central Florida and the 1975 calf crop is on the ground. The events of the
past 18 months emphasize the need for Florida cow-calf producers to have as much,
flexibility as possible in marketing their product. The economic success of this
segment of the Florida cattle industry should not be dependent on only one outlet
for their calves.
What should be done with the 1974 calves, which are now yearlings and what
can be done to maximize income from the 1975 calf crop? The purpose of this
report is to summarize results of research with calves and yearlings at the Ona
Agricultural Research Center (ARC).
The kind and quality of pasture forage will have considerab e effect on the
rate of gain of yearling cattle. Early research at the Ona ARC- (Table 1)
showed the variation in gain of yearling cattle during the spring, summer and
fall months, due to the kind of forage and fertilization. The ability of
yearling battle to gain well on good, well-fertilized pasture forages was further
demonstrated in later studies (Table 23/ and Table 3=/). Gains of yearling
cattle were always lower with the bahia grasses than other grasses and the
bahiagrasses are not recommended for young cattle in south Florida. The amount
of beef produced per acre varied considerably from year to year due to environ-
mental factors that affected pasture quality. Research has also shown that if
forage quality is sufficient to produce good gains in cattle the primary benefit
from additional fertilizer will be an increased carrying capacity.!/
1/ Center Director and Associate Animal Scientist, respectively, Agricultural
Research Center, Ona, Florida, 33865.
2/ Hodges, E. M. and W. G. Kirk. Fla. Agr. Expt. Sta. Annual Reports 1947, 1948.
3/ Hodges, E. M., W. G. Kirk, D. W. Jones and F. M.Peacock. Fla. Agr. Expt.
Sta. Annual Reports 1953, 1954, 1955.
4/ McCaleb, J. E. and E. M. Hodges, Fla. Agr. Expt. Sta. Annual Reports
1962, 1963, and 1964.
5/ Hodges, E. M., W. G. Kirk, D. W. Jones and F. M. Peacock. Fla. Agr. Expt.
Sta. Annual Reports 1957 and 1958.
The results presented in Tables 1, 2 and 3 are from grazing studies
conducted during the spring, summer and fall months and did not include
the winter period. They show that yearling cattle can gain a pound a day, or
more on good, well-fertilized pastures during those months of the year. They
will not gain that much on the bahia grasses. These data provide an estimate
of the gain that could be expected from the current surplus of yearling cattle
if they were placed on good quality digit or stargrass pasture for the next
Table 1. Effect of Forage and Fertilizer on Rate of Gain of Yearling
Steers in Early Grazing Trials. (lb)!7
Kind of forage Daily gain
Carpetgrass, unfertilized 0.26
Carpetgrass, fertilized 0.98
Common bahia, unfertilized 0.36
Common bahia, fertilized 0.73
Carpetgrass-clover, fertilized, unirrigated 1.44
Pangola, fertilized 1.34
Pensacola bahia, fertilized 1.05
i/ Each figure is an average of two years data.
Table 2. Variability in Annual Beef Production from Yearling Cattle
Due to Kind of Forage and Year (Ib/Beef/Acre).1/
Forage Range Average
Common bahia 138 158 149
Carpetgrass 141 182 165
Coastal bermuda 189 212 200
Torpedo grass 198 206 203
Pensacola bahia 210 224 215
Argentine bahia 170 236 216
Pangolagrass 294 360 339
1/ An average of three years data. The grazing period was from approximately
March 15 to October 1 of each year.
Calves that have been wintered on a high roughage diet will make rapid
gains when placed on good pasture as yearlings the following spring (8)./,
with the most rapid gain occurring in the spring and summer months. Permanent
grass pastures rapidly lose quality in August and September and rate of gain
can decrease sharply during this time. Gains will be greater on Pangola or
stargrass than on Pensacola bahia. More gain will be obtained if a limited
supplemental feed is provided, but current cattle and feed prices should be
carefully evaluated to see if this is economical.
6/ Figures in parenthesis refer to Ona research publications.
Table 3. Variability in Rate of Gain of Yearling Cattle Due to Grass
Variety and Year (Ib).-
Daily gain (lb)
Pensacola bahia 0.76 -'1.02 0.88
Tifhi bahia -0.88 1.08 0.96
McCaleb stargrass 1.17 1.36 1.23
Slenderstem 1.26 1.65 1.42
1/ Figures are from three years of experiments except for McCaleb stargrass
which was for two years.
Kirk et al (10) showed that yearling crossbred steers could gain well
on pangolagrass silage or hay and that as the level of concentrate increased
both feed efficiency and rate of gain increased while cost per pound of gain
decreased. However the cost of gain in this research would be uneconomical at
the present prices of cattle and the feeds used. Cost of gain was the same
for each source of roughage.
Floriland oats, Gator rye, Abruzzi rye and Florida Blaok rye were shown
to be economically marginal for fattening 21 month old steers (11) in south-
central Florida (12). Oats produced a small profit while rye lost money. The
economics of these two crops will depend on relative production and cattle
prices. Supplementing the same age steer with ground snapped corn, while
grazing oats, increased rate of gain and dressing percentage (13) but was
not economical with current cattle and feed prices.
As shown in Table 4 yearling crossbred steers fattened for 185 days
during spring, summer, and fall on Pangolagrass plus 2.0 of 41% cottonseed
meal gained 1.32 pounds a day as compared to 1.08 on Pensacola bahia (9).
It took 199 days to have the steers reach market weight on Pensacola bahia.
Feeding an average of 5 lb of citrus pulp per steer daily increased the daily
gain .42 lb on pangolagrass and .35 lb on Pensacola bahiagrass. When an
average of 9 pounds of citrus .pulp was fed per steer daily the rate of gain
increased .46 Ib on pangolagrass and .51 lb on Pensacola bahiagrass as
compared to the pasture only steers. The steers receiving no citrus pulp
graded high standard as compared to low and middle good for the steers
receiving the citrus pulp. Stocking rate was 2.4 steers per acre. Fertilizer
cost in the study was approximately $80 per acre based on present fertilizer
prices and ranged from 10 to 13 cents per pound of beef produced.
Grade Brahman yearling steers, weighing less than 500 pounds, gained
from 2.21 to 2.50 pounds a day during spring and summer feeding periods, of
140 days each (14). Feed required per pound of gain ranged from 7.35 to 7.43
pounds. The steers graded U. S. Good and weighed an average of 776 pounds at
the end of 140 days on feed. Marketing this size animal may have economical
potential in Florida.
In another series of studies with grade Brahman yearling steers (17) it
shown steers on pasture required less feed for gain than when in the feedlot
and that shade significantly increased the rate of gain. All of the cattle in
these studies were full fed a rate that would require a more favorable cattle:feed
price ratio than currently:exists in order to be economically feasible.
Table 4. Performance of Steers Fattened on Pangola or Pensacola Bahia (10).1
Daily citrus Pangola Pensacola
pulp intake (lb) 0 5 9 0 5 9
Steers/acre 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4
Days on test 185 185 185 199 199 199
Total gain/steer (ib) 264 326 332 213 286 317
Daily gain/steer (Ib) 1.32 1.75 1.78 1.08 1.43 1.58
Total gain/acre (Ib) 634 782 797 511 686 760
1/ All cattle received 2 Ib of 41% cottonseed meal per animal daily.
', . Calves
In an early study with weanling calves (15) it was shown that Brahman and
Brahman-crobsbred calves gained from 1.94 to 2.01 pounds on full feed in drylot
and required from approximately 7.15 to 7.93 pounds of feed per pound of gain
during a 140 day feeding period. The calves weighed approximately 800 pounds
when slaughtered and yielded Cood and Choice carcass grades.
In another: study it was shown tht: calves do not grow out well on Pensacola
bahiagrass (16). Heifer calves wintered on Pensacola had a rate of gain proport-
ional to the level of supplemental feed provided.: There was some, but not a
complete, compensatory gain when the heifers were fed in drylot for 140 days '
following the winter period. Approxiirately I to 1.5% of body weight as feed
appeared to be the best level to keep calves gaining on Pensacola during the winter
and still gain well in the feedlot.
In another series of experiments (18) calves gained more when wintered on
Pangolagrass pasture than when fed pangolagrass silage. The calves received
between 3 and 4 pounds of :a citrus pulp-cottonseed meal ration and gained an
average of 0.78 pounds a day on pangolagrass pasture.
Calves grazing non-irrigated ryegrass gained 1.54 pounds a day as compared to
1.34 pounds on non-irrigated oats in recent studies at the Ona ARC (11). Ryegrass
also produced more gain per acre than oats. Over a three year period ryegrass
provided an average of 115 days grazing time as compared to 120 for oats. There
was almost 100% variation in production between years and irrigation is needed
to assure optimum production from these crops. In these studies an average of
270 Ib of gain was produced per acre of oats and 345 lb per acre of ryegrass for
the three years, at a total cost of $40.75 and $37.00 per acre, respectively.
Current fertilizer prices would increase these production costs about $35 per
In a more recent study (2) lightweight heifer calves having an initial
weight of 221 pounds were wintered on pangolagrass pasture with different levels
of concentrate feed and compared to lightweight calves full fed in drylot
(Table 5). All of the pasture-fed calves fed on pasture made more net return than
those in drylot. However these were tail-end calves that did not gain well.
The economics of feeding poorer-quality lightweight calves will be greatly
affected by the initial and final value of the calves.
Table 5. Performance of Lightweight Calves Fed Various Levels of
Concentrate on Winter Pangolagrass Pasture as Compared to Drylot.(2)
Pangola pasture Drylot
Feed intake .( .BW) 0.5 .0 1.5 2.0 Full fed
Number of calves 34 33 34 34 34
Days on feed 185 181 174 172 171
Initial weight (lb) 221 221 221 221 219
Final weight (lb) 378 414 434 452 462
Total gain (lb) 157 193 213 231 243
Daily gain (lb) 0.85 1.07 1.22 1.34 1.42
In a second study (3) calves with an initial weight of 323 pounds were fed
on winter pangolagrass and compared with similar calves fed in drylot (Table 6).
Crossbred steers gained more in drylot than on pasture but had annet income loss
of $8.86 per head as compared to a net income gain of $22.22 per head when
fattened on pasture. Good quality crossbred steers made a greater net return
than grade Brahman steers. All pasture fed groups made a net return gain.
Table 6. Performance of Various Types of Calves Fed on Winter Pangolagrass
Pasture as Compared to Drylot (3).
Pangola Pasture Drylot
Brahman Brahman Brahman B x A B x A
heifers steers bulls steers steers
Number of calves 30 30 30 30 29
Days on feed 162 162 150 150 162
Initial weight (lb) 314 319 336 327 318
'Final weight.(lb) 513 559 568 566 642
Total gain-(lb) 199 240 232 239 324
Daily gain (lb) 1.23 1.48 1.55 1.59 2.00
Concentrate 6.92 7.00 6.96 6.96 13.54
Similar results (Table 8) were obtained in a third study (4) in that more
net income was made by calves fed on pasture as compared to drylot. In this
study the cost of feed had begun to spiral upward and the cost of gain exceeded
40C a pound on all treatments. A profit was made because the price of cattle
had not fallen, but during 1974 (Table 9)all groups of cattle had a negative
net return (5), as the value of cattle fell from 59C going on experiment to
30 a pound coming out. However less money was lost on.the cattle fed on pasture
than in drylot. 'In a study just completed (Table 7) lightweight calves fattened
in drylot had their rate of gain increase over 25% by, the use of Synovex.
Table 7. Average Performance of Lightweight Calves Fattened in Drylot,
Number of calves
Initial weight (lb)
Final weight (lb)
Total gain (lb)
Daily gain (lb)
Daily feed intake (lb)
Table 8. Steer Calves
for 173 days
Fed on Winter Pangolagrass Pasture and
Breed of calf Brahman X Bred Brahman X Bred
Protein supplement CS1l Urea CSM Urea CSM CSM
Number of animals 29 30 30 30 29 29
Initial weight (lb) 379 377 428 428 377 429
Final weight (Ib) 609 591 675 656 646 750
Total gain (Ib) 230 214 247 228 269 321
Daily gain (lb) 1.33 1.24 1.43 1.32 1.55 1.86
Daily feed intake (lb)
Concentrate 7.80 7.58 8.51 8.42 11.35 14.26
Hay 5.53 5.35 5.54 5.20 1.63 1.16
- - --
Table 9. Steer Calves Fed on Winter Pasture and In Drylot. (5).
Pangola Pangola Pangola Pangola Drylot Drylot
1.5% BW 2.0% BW 1.5% BW 3.0% BW 2.2% BW
Number of animals 18 18 18 18 18 18
Initial weight (Ib) 375 386 381 384 377 380
Final weight (lb) 651 580 697 702 689 644
Total gain (lb) 276 194 316 318 312 264
Daily gain (lb). 1.23 0.87 1.41 1.42 1.39 1.18
Daily feed intake (lb)
Concentrate 6.80 3.47 8.99 7.16 11.30 9.39
Hay .62 1.62 .65 .99 4.38 6.00
It is not easy to build flexibility into a cow-calf program to.take
advantage of/or to offset market variations. However, research has shown that
relatively economical gains can be made by beef cattle on pasture in south and
central Florida. There may be occasions when it would be more economical for
Florida cattlemen to retain ownership of their calves and grow them out them-
selves, in Florida. The cost of gain by calves is relative economical, the calves
would be owned by one person thereby eliminating the overhead of multiple
ownership and calves can be grown out in Florida as well as elsewhere which would
save the transportation expense involved in shipping calves out and the finished
carcass back into the state.
The net return made from growing calves in south and central Florida will be
affected more by the initial and final value of the animal than by feed costs.
The general current market condition is not completely unfavorable for feeding
calves. For example, calves purchased at 191 a pound and sold for slaughter at
25c a pound will not.lose money if the cost of gain doest not exceed 29 or 30
cents a pound. A more detailed discussion of the interrelationship of animal,
operating and feed costs is available (1), for both calves and steers.
The Florida cow-calf man should produce two-way calves at weaning, that
could be merchandised either to a slaughter or feeder buyer. Calves should be
heavy enough and of sufficient quality at weaning to be sold as baby beef if
that market is favorable. Or, if it is more profitable the calf could go into
a growing-finishing program. A lightweight calf is currently disadvantaged in
marketability (Table 10).6
If the calf is not sold at weaning as baby beef the production program to
follow will depend upon the goal the owner has established. If it is a light-
weight calf that is to be sold as baby beef it may be most desirable to full feed
the calf, in confinement. If the calf is to be grown out to a lightweight beef
6/ Florida Department of Agricultural Livestock Reporting Service Statistics.
animal of about 800 pounds, good quality pasture should provide the majority
of nutrients, with a limited amount of concentrate supplement. Preferably at
least half of the supplement for calves should be dry.
The current supply of yearling cattle in Florida could best be managed by
placing them on well-fertilized Pangola or stargrass pasture from this April
until next September or October, with no supplemental feed. At that time a
decision would need to be made regarding whether to sell them as lightweight
slaughter cattle, to feed them for a short period of time before selling or
to hold them on pasture for another year. Cattlemen with large acreages of
native land may decide to carry the steers through two or three winters to
sell as three or four-year-old steers, but this will depend: upon the individual
Table 10. Relative Price of Various Weight of Florida Calves, 1975.
Weight of calf (lb)
125-200 200-300 300-400 400-500
October, 1974 20.15 20.60 20.74 21.88
November- 16.03- 17.35 18.38 20.45
December 17.08 17.53 19.25 21.15
January, 1975 15.88 16.93 18.17 21.07
February 16.69 17.19 18.34 19.83
Comments and Suggestions for 1975
Calves. The way calves are managed after weaning will depend upon whether they
are raised or purchased and upon the stress factors present at weaning.
1. 'Calves raised on the ranch should be castrated, dehorned, branded and
vaccinated while still nursing the cow and at least four weeks before
being weaned, if these steps are to be done. At weaning they should be
confined for 7-14 days, provided clean, fresh water, good quality roughage and
3 to 4 pounds of citrus pulp or a complete feed. After being completely
weaned they can be moved to pasture. The need for worming, treating for
flukes, use of antibiotics, and vitamin ADE will vary from area to area.
The advice of a veterinarian should be obtained for herd health management.
2. Purchased calves should be held in isolation and provided water,hay and
feed for 7-10 days. In most cases purchased calves should be vaccinated,
wormed, treated for flukes if from a fluke area, provided antibiotics and
vitamin ADE. Rely on a veterinarian for herd health recommendations.
Calves should be castrated, dehorned and branded when given other treatments,
3. Calves can be grown out on good Pangola, Slenderstem or stargrass pasture
and a limited amount of concentrate more economically than on a full feed
in drylot in south and central Florida.
4. Bahiagrass is not recommended for calves.
5. Gains on pangolagrass will not be improved by feeding the grass as hay or
6. Calves will grow well on ryegrass or clover-grass pasture without
7. Do not over-feed on pasture. Calves should have maximum of 1.0 to 1.5
percent of body weight. The feed supplement should emphasize energy.
8. Avoid selling lightweight calves, if possible.
Yearlings. The way 1974 calves are managed this spring, summer and fall
will be influenced when the cattle must be sold.
1. Yearling cattle from the 1974 calf crop can be grown out on well
fertilized pangolagrass, Slenderstem, McCaleb, or other digitaria and
2. The bahiagrasses are not recommended for yearlings.
3. Supplemental feeding is not recommended during the spring and summer
months of 1975 for cattle grazing good quality pasture.
4. Yearlings on ryegrass or legume-grass pasture will not require supplemental
5. Ryegrass or oats are better annual pastures than rye in south and central
6. Use a maximum of 0.5 to 1.0 percent of body weight for yearlings fed on
pasture. Do not full feed on pasture.
7. Implant slaughter cattle with diethylstilbestrol or synovex. Do not
implant herd replacements.
Ona Research Publications
1. Chapman, H. L., Jr., D. W. Beardaley, T. J. Cunha and W. K. McPherson.
1967. Developing calves and steers on pastures in south and central
Florida. Fla. Agr. Expt. Sta. Bull. 719.
2. Chapman, H. J., r. and R.E.L. Greene. 1971. Effect of various levels
of concentrate feed for growing lightweight calves. In Process of
3. Chapman, H.L., Jr. and R.E.L. Greene. 1972. Comparison of Brahmans and
Brahman x Angus calves grown on pasture or drylot. In Process of Public-
4. Chapman, H.L., Jr. and R.E.L. Greene. 1973. Comparison of pasture vs
drylot for growing calves. In Process of Publication.
5. Chapman, H.L., Jr. and R.E.L. Greene. 1974. Use of supplemental feed and
ryegrass forgrowing calv.' In Process of Publication.
6. Chapman, H.L., Jr. and G. D. Brown. 1975. Fattening lightweight calves
indrylot. In Process of Publication.
7. Hodges, E.M., G. B. Killinger, J.E. McCaleb, O.C.:Ruelkey R.J. Allen, Jr.,
S.C. Schank and A.E. Kretschmer. 1967. Pangolagrass. Fla. Agr. Expt. Sta.
8. Hodges, E.M., W.G.Kirk and F. M.Peacock. 1964. Supplemental feeding of
steers on Pangolagrass and Pensacola bahiagrass pastures. Proc. Soil
Crop Sci. Soc. of Fla. 24:196-199.
9. "irk, U.G., E.M. Hodges, J.W. Carpenter, F.M. Peacock and F. G. Martin.
1974. Supplemental feeding of steers on Pangola digitgrass and Pensacola
bahiagrass pastures. Proc. Soil Crop Sci. Soc. of Fla. 33:53-55.
10. Kirk, WIG., F.M. Peacock, E.M. Hodges and J.E. McCaleb. 1960. Value of
Pangola hay and silage in steer fattening rations. Fla. Agr. Expt. Sta.
11. McCaleb, J.E. and E.M.Hodges. 1969. Oats and ryegrass for beef production
and pasture renovation. Proc. Soil and Crop Sci. Soc. of Fla. 29:214-218.
12. McCaleb, J.E., F.M.Peacock and E.M.Hodges. 1964. Oats and rye for
grazing on Florida flatwoods. Fla. Agr. Expt. Sta. Cir. 152.
13. McColeb, J.E., F.M. Peacock end E.M. Hodges. 1964. Response of steers
grazing oats on Florida flatwoods to supplemental energy feed. Proc.
Soil C~op Sci. Soc. of Fla. 24:184-187.
14. Peacock,F.M. and W. G. Kirk. 1959. Comparative feeding value.of dried
citrus pulp, corn feed iral and ground snapped corn for fattening steers
in drylot. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull. 616.
15. Peacock, F.M. and W. G. Kirk. 1963. Feedlot performance and carcass data
of Brahman and Brahman-Shorthorn steers. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull. 597.
16. Peacock, F.M., W.G. Kirk, E.M. Hodges, A.Z. Palmer and J. W. Carpenter,
1964. The effect of winter gains and subsequent feedlot performance.
Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull. 667.
17. Peacock, F.M., W.G. Kirk, E.M. Hodges, A.Z. Palmer, and J. W. Carpenter.
1965. Influence of summer pasture, diethystilbestrol and shade on
fattening cattle in south Florida. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Tech. Bull. 700.
18. Peacock, F.M., J. E. McCaleb, E.M. Hodges and W.G. Kirk. 1961. Factors
influencing winter gains of beef calves. Fla. Agr. Expt. Sta. Bull. 635.