Oklahoma State University animal researchers studied the economic effect of withholding feed for 24 hours before shipping finished steers to the packing plant. A test group of 1,138 animals were divided into two groups. The first half were taken off feed for 24 hours prior to transport. No feed was withheld from the second group of finished cattle before transport.

Withholding feed saved one day's feed cost ($1.72) but decreased carcass weight by 9 pounds. The decrease in carcass weight resulted in a net loss of $5.30 per steer. Dressing percentages were increased only slightly in those animals withheld from feed. Because one more steer could be hauled per truck, feed withdrawal resulted in savings of $0.20 per animal. The number of dark cutter carcasses was three times higher in the group taken off feed for 24 hours. Withholding feed resulted in a net loss of $1.80 per steer ($1.04 x 35 percent).

When you subtracts the losses in carcass weight and dark cutters ($5.30 + $1.80 = $7.10) from the savings in feed cost and transportation costs ($1.72 + $0.20 = 1.92), feed withdrawal resulted in an overall net loss of about $5 per animal.

For information check out "Oklahoma State University Animal Science Research Report #P-965."