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J Anim Sci. 2011 Jan;89(1):158-67. doi: 10.2527/jas.2009-2514. Epub 2010 Sep 3.

Feed efficiency differences and reranking in beef steers fed grower and finisher diets.

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Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2P5, Canada.


This 3-yr study used 490 steers to determine whether feedlot steers changed their feed efficiency (FE) ranking when fed a grower diet, then a finisher diet. The steers were crossbreds and were between 5 to 7 mo of age. There were 2 feeding periods each year. Within each year, approximately 90 steers had their diet switched from a grower to a finisher diet (feed-swap group), whereas another 90 steers were fed either the grower (grower-fed group) or the finisher (finisher-fed group) diet throughout the feeding trial. Each feeding test lasted for a minimum of 10 wk, and all steers were fed ad libitum. Individual animal feed intakes were collected using the GrowSafe feeding system, and BW were measured every 2 wk. Residual feed intake (RFI), G:F, and Kleiber ratio (KR) were computed at the end of each feeding period. For each measure of efficiency, animals were classified as low, medium, or high based on 0.5 SD from the mean. The majority of steers did not maintain the previous efficiency class in the second period. Approximately 58, 51, and 51% of steers in the feed-swap group, finisher-fed group, and the grower-fed group, respectively, changed their RFI measure by 0.5 SD. A low rank correlation occurred in all test groups but was less in the feed-swap group. Spearman rank correlations between the 2 feeding periods in the feed-swap group were 0.33, 0.20, and 0.31 for RFI, G:F, and KR, respectively. Classifications based on G:F and KR showed that a greater number of steers (P < 0.05) in the feed-swap group did not maintain their FE class from 1 feeding regimen to the other, whereas classification based on RFI did not show any difference (P > 0.05) between the proportions of individuals that changed or maintained their FE class. In the groups without a feed-swap, there was no difference (P > 0.05) in the proportion of steers that changed or maintained the same FE class for all FE measures. Our results suggest that diet type and feeding period affect the FE ranking in beef steers. A feedlot diet is ideal for evaluating the FE potential of steers for feedlot profitability; however, we suggest that tests involving less dense diets should be examined in an effort to understand the relationships between FE and feeder profitability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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