When it comes to feeding a variety of different cattle types, factors such as sex, age and body condition all affect performance according to Harlan Ritchie, animal scientist at Michigan State University.

Consider these factors when making management and marketing decisions.

Effect of sex on performance:


  • Steers gain 8 percent to 15 percent faster than heifers of the same size.
  • Steers consume 5 percent to 10 percent more feed than heifers.
  • Heifers require 2 percent to 6 percent more feed per pound of gain than steers.
  • To be equal in profit potential, feeder heifers need to be purchased about 10 percent to 15 percent cheaper than feeder steers.
  • Part of the reason for poorer feed conversion of heifers is that many cattle feed-ers tend to over fatten them compared with steers.



Effect of age on performance:


  • Yearlings gain 10 percent to 20 percent faster than calves, depending upon relative weight and condition.
  • Yearlings consume 10 percent to 40 percent more feed than calves depending upon relative weight and condition.
  • Yearlings require 10 percent to 20 percent more feed per pound of gain than calves.



Effect of body condition on performance:


  • When placed on comparable diets, thin cattle gain faster and more efficiently than fleshier cattle. This is called compensatory gain.
  • For this reason, cattle feeders try to avoid buying fleshy feeder cattle unless they are priced somewhat lower than thin cattle.