Everglades Station Mimeo Report 6-144 April 5, 1961
SUPPLEMENTING STOCKER STEERS ON PASTURE WITH A CONCENTRATE
C. E. Haines, H. L. Chapman, Jr. and R. W. Kidder 1
A common practice among many cattle feeders is to finish steers when
they are about two years old. This usually means growing out steers for
approximately a year before they are finished. The condition and size of
stocker steers, when placed on a finishing program, influences their perfor-
mance during the finishing or fattening period. More feed and time are re-
quired to bring a thin, poor steer up to a higher slaughter grade than a
steer starting the finishing period in good nutritional condition. The value
of the improved condition of the animal at the beginning of the finishing
period will depend on its effect on the net income of the finished animal.
Therefore, the problem is to find the most economical management procedure to
follow during the year, prior to the finishing period.
Hogan (1) and Winchester et al (2) reported that it took longer for
nutritionally retarded steers to reach definite slaughter grades than those
on high planes of nutrition. Studies by Kidder (3) on Shawnee Farms and
Haines et al (4) in south Florida have shown that yearling steers receiving
small amounts of concentrate feed on pasture during the winter made greater
gains than those not supplemented. Although Morrison (5) recommends that
yearlings should gain at least 0.75 pounds per day during the winter months,
Allen (6) and Haines and Chapman (7) reported that yearling steers often lose
weight during short periods in the winter on south Florida pastures.
The study reported herein was conducted to determine the effects on
growth rates of supplementing grazing stocker steers with a concentrate mixture
at various times of the year. Differences in growth rates were evaluated by
gains in weight and changes in market grades.
Eighty yearling steers, averaging 444 pounds, were dividedinto four
equal groups on the basis of breeding and weight. One half of each group were
Herefords and the rest were Angus, Brahman and Brahman x Angus ,rossbred steers.
Each group of steers was placed in a 10 acre pasture of Roselawn St ; Augustine-:
grass in November, 1959, and were allowed to graze these pastiires through
October, 1960. The year was divided into quarters and three 6f\the stee6,$^"
groups were fed a limited amount of a concentrate mixture during certain quarters.
1 Haines, Chapman and Kidder: Assistant Animal Husbandman, Associate Animal
Nutritionist and Animal Husbandman, respectively, Everglades Experiment
Station, Belle Glade, Florida.
The concentrate mixture consisted of 2 parts ground snapped corn, 2 parts
.itrus pulp and one part cottonseed meal and cost $2.59/cwt. A salt-mineral
tlxture was fed to all groups free choice.
One group received no concentrate supplementation during the year. The
second group was fed five pounds of concentrate mixture per head daily between
November 23 and February 8 (1st quarter). The third steer group also received
the same supplementation and three pounds of the concentrate per animal daily
between February 8 and April 25 (2nd quarter). The fourth group was supple-
mented with five pounds of concentrate per head daily during the 1st quarter
and then three pounds of concentrate per animal daily between July 18 and
October 10 (4th quarter). None of the groups received any supplemental feed
between April 25 and July 18 (3rd quarter).
Individual weights were secured at quarterly intervals. Steers were
given market grades at the beginning and end of the trial by a committee of
three persons. Both feeder and slaughter grades were assigned to each animal.
Results and Discussion
Although the experimental year (322 days) was divided into quarters, there
were 11 weeks in the 1st and 2nd quarters and 12 weeks in each of the last two
quarters. For the first quarter, the animals were on test one week before
supplementary feeding began so they received concentrate for only 10 weeks
(70 days) of the initial period. The trends of weight changes for each group,
by quarterly test periods, are illustrated in figure 1 and actual average
weights are shown in Table 1.
Supplementation definitely affected gains during the 1st quarter in
which steers in group 2, 3 and 4 received an average of 350 pounds of concen-
trate. Steers not receiving concentrate lost an average of 2.5 pounds compared
to average gains of 53.5, 64.3 and 56.5 pounds for the steers in the three
supplemented groups. This was an average gain of 58.1 pounds vs. 2.5 pounds
of loss between the two treatments, or an improvement of approximately 61
pounds for 350 pounds of concentrate feed. Thus 574 pounds of concentrate
produced 100 pounds of weight improvement.
In the second quarter (Feb. 8 through April 25), the only group of
steers that gained weight was group 3 that received 3 pounds of the concentrate
per head daily following the 5 pound rate of supplementation in the 1st quarter.
These steers gained an average of 13 pounds per head during the quarter, with
231 pounds of mixed concentrate per head. At the end of the second quarter,
the average weight of these steers was 522 pounds compared to 412 pounds for
the steers which had received no supplementation in either quarter (control
group). The steers in the two groups that had been previously supplemented
in the first quarter only, weighed an average of 465 pounds at the end of the
second quarter. A total of 581 pounds of feed was consumed per animal in
quarters 1 and 2 by group 3. Since the difference in weight was 110 pounds
between this group and the control group, 528 pounds of concentrate was
required to produce 100 pounds of weight advantage.
Figure 1. Changes in Body Weights of Four Steer Groups.
Control (No supplement)
Supplemented 1st Quarter
Supplemented 1st and 2nd Quarters
Supplemented 1st and 4th Quarters
Table 1. Average Weight and Grade Changes During One Year, by Treatment
Group Number h
Experimental Quarters (Approx.)
1. (Nov., Dec. & Jan.)
2. (Feb., Mar., & April)
3. (May, June & July)
4. (Aug., Sept., & Oct.)
Average weights (ibs.)
Total gains (lbs.)
Initial Feeder Grade*
Final Feeder Grade
Initial Slaughter Grade*
Final Slaughter Grade
Daily Supplement, per
* Market grades are average of three
or Medium and 9, 10 & 11 for Good.
graders using 6, 7 & 8 for Standard
Gains were very good by each group, on pasture alone, in the third quarter
(April 25 through July 18). Average gains were 125, 112, 101 and 114 pounds
for groups 1 (control), 2, 3 and 4, respectively. Since there were 84 days
in the period, the values indicate an overall average daily gain of 1.4 pounds
The supplementation of group 4 in the 4th quarter appeared to stimulate
gains in this group by an average of at least 28 additional pounds. This group
gained an average of 104 pounds compared to 54, 75 and 76 pounds for the
steers in the control group and groups 2 and 3, respectively. These additional
gains were not sufficient however, to cause this treatment to produce the
heaviest animals at the termination of the trial. Since there were 84 days
in this final quarter, each steer in group 4 consumed an average of 252 pounds
of concentrate during the period and it required 504 pounds of feed to put
on an additional 100 pounds of gain when compared to the gains of the control
A comparison of the total yearly gains for each group indicate that sup-
plementing steers during the first and second quarters (group 3), with a total
of 581 pounds of feed per animal, produced the largest weight gains. Data in
Table 1 also shows that this treatment was of the most benefit to market grades.
These steers averaged 109 pounds more at the end of the trial than the control
steers which received no supplementation during the year. Thus 100 additional
pounds were realized for each 533 pounds of concentrate feed provided and the
feed cost was $0.14 per pound of extra gain. The actual value of the feed was
greater than this when the changes in market grade were considered. Supple-
mentation appears to have helped this group maintain its average initial feeder
grade and to decrease losses in average slaughter grade as experienced in the
other treatment groups.
Mineral consumption was influenced by the supplementation treatment.
Groups consumed less of the salt-mineral mixture while receiving the concen-
trate than groups not being supplemented even though minerals were not added
to the concentrate mixture. The average daily salt-mineral mixture consumption
per head during the year was 0.10, 0.08, 0.10 and 0.06 pounds for steers in
groups 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively. The overall mineral consumption was 0.08
pounds per head daily for the 80 steers.
Eighty yearling steers were used to study the affects of supplementing
pasture grazing with a limited amount of a concentrate mixture during four
periods of the year. The year was divided into quarterly periods and the
study included four groups of steers.
Steers on pasture alone gained an average of 146 Ibs during the year
compared to 212 lbs for a group receiving 5 lbs of a concentrate mixture per
head daily during November, December and January (1st quarter). Groups which
also received this same supplementation plus 3 lbs of concentrate per head
daily during the 2nd or 4th experimental quarter gained an average of 255 and
234 Ibs per head, respectively. Thus, supplementation during the first two
quarters of the experimental year was the most advantageous treatment for
the production of gains. The additional gains required $0.14 worth of feed
per pound of gain. However, the value of feeding was even greater if changes
iZ mark-et grades are considered. Supplementation definitely helped to main-
tain average feeder and slaughter grades.
The salt-mineral mixture consumption was greater during non-supplementatic-
periods and the average overall consumption for the year was 0.08 lbs per head
1. Hogan, A. G. 1929. Retarded Growth and Mature Size of Beef Steers.
Mo. Agr. Exp. Sta. Res. Bul. 123.
2. Winchester, C. F., R. L. Hiner and V. C. Scarborough. 1957. Some
Effects on Beef Cattle of Protein and Energy Restriction. Jour.
An. Sci. 16: 426.
3. Kidder, R. W. 1956. Feeding Steers From Weaning to Feed Lot. Everglades
Station Mimeo Report 57-9.
4. Haines, C. E., H. L. Chapman, Jr., and R. W. Kidder. 1959. The Effects
of Limited Concentrate and Antibiotic Supplementation to Yearling
Steers Wintered on Pasture. Everglades Station Mimeo Report 59-32.
5. Morrison, F. B. 1957. Feeds and Feeding. The Morrison Publishing Co.,
Ithaca, N. Y., 22nd Ed.
6. Allen, R. J., Jr. 1957. Summarization of Grazing Trial Experiments.
Everglades Station Mimeo Report 57-11.
7. Haines, C. E. and H. L. Chapman, Jr. 1960. Results of Grazing Experi-
ments with Yearling Calves on Four Major Pasture Grasses of the
Everglades for One Year. Everglades Station Mimeo Report 60-16.