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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2007

Finishing of dairy steers having grazed semi-natural grasslands

Hessle A, Nadeau E, Johnsson S


The objective of this study was to determine the effects of initial live weight, level of grain feeding, and length of finishing period on weight gain and carcass traits of dairy steers that had grazed semi-natural grasslands. Steers were subdivided by initial live weight (low vs. high) and were fed two levels of grain (0.5% vs. 1.0% of live weight day(-1)) during three different lengths of finishing period (3, 5 vs. 8 months). In total, 192 steers, initially 18 to 21 months of age, were fed grass-clover silage ad libitum. Steers fed high levels of grain had a higher dietary feed intake than steers fed low levels of grain (10.5 vs. 9.7 kg DM day(-1); P < 0.001). Carcass weight gain (630 g) was highest and feed conversion (169 MJ metabolizable energy per kg carcass gain) was best in steers with 5 months of finishing. Steers with low initial weights had a higher daily carcass weight gain than initially heavy steers (614 vs. 571 g, P=0.013). A high initial weight and a long finishing period resulted in heavier and fatter carcasses with a higher conformation score and lower proportions of valuable retail cuts and bone. In conclusion, high-quality carcasses can be produced when finishing dairy steers that previously have grazed semi-natural grasslands. Performance and carcass traits were more effected by initial weight and length of finishing period than by level of grain feeding. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved


steer; finishing; weight gain; carcass traits

Published in

Livestock Science
2007, Volume: 106, number: 1, pages: 19-27