University of Nebraska recently analyzed two sources of data to determine performance differences between cattle with differing degrees of finish within a pen. One data set came from large commercial feedyards. The other was from individually fed steers at university research facilities.

The data indicate that if an entire pen goes to slaughter on the same date, the leaner cattle within the pen will, not surprisingly, have lower carcass weights and lower quality grades. They are, however, gaining weight faster and more efficiently than fatter cattle at that same date. Researchers conclude that sorting or topping-off fatter cattle, while increasing days on feed for leaner cattle to improve their weights and grading percentage, could improve overall profitability for the pen.