The seasonal marketing period for spring born calves fed in the feedlot will be beginning over the course of the next few months. As these cattle approach market weight, each pound that is put on is less efficient than the previous pound because the cattle are getting increasingly fatter.
With high feed costs, the efficiency or feed conversion often separates the high cost and low cost of gain pens. Feeders must balance market timing and its effect on feed conversion with changes in cattle value based on the current grid premiums and discounts as well changes in dressing percentages. Feeders should also consider the remaining options that can impact efficiency and red meat yield late in the feeding period. These include the selection and timing of a terminal implant and the use of terminal feed additives.
Sometimes called beta-agonists based on the scientific term for their mode of action, terminal feed additives are fed the last three to four weeks before the cattle are marketed. Tradenames of the terminal feed additives available today are Optaflexx and Zilmax. These products repartition the nutrients from less efficient fat development to more muscle. The result is an increase in carcass weights of 15 to 30 pounds with little or no increase in feed consumption.
The use of these products requires that you know three to four weeks ahead of time when the cattle will be marketed. For feeders who sort cattle out of a pen into marketing groups this should be done three to four weeks before market. While management may be a challenge, the improvement in performance, carcass weight and value may be worth it. At the very least, feeders are encouraged to discuss this technology with their nutritionist.
For more information, Dr. Amy Radunz, Beef Specialist from the University of Wisconsin has developed a nice fact sheet in pdf format that can be found here: http://fyi.uwex.edu/wbic/files/2010/11/Beta-Agonists-Factsheet.pdf
Source: Dan Loy, IBC director