Date of this Version
J. Anim. Sci. 2013.91:4322–4335
Two experiments were conducted to examine the effect of growth rate to similar age or BW on fat deposition in stocker cattle grazing dormant native range (DNR) or winter wheat pasture (WP). In each experiment, fall-weaned Angus steers were randomly allotted to 1 of 4 stocker production programs: 1) control, 1.02 kg/d of a 40% CP cottonseed mealbased supplement during grazing of DNR (CON); 2) corn/soybean meal-based supplement fed at 1% of BW during grazing of DNR (CORN); 3) grazing WP at a high stocking rate to achieve a low rate of BW gain (LGWP); and 4) grazing WP at a low stocking rate to achieve a high rate of BW gain (HGWP). In Exp. 1, a subset of steers (3 steers per treatment) was harvested after winter grazing (138 d) at similar age. The remaining WP steers were transitioned into the finishing phase, whereas DNR steers were allowed to graze the same native range pastures for another 115 d without supplementation before entering the feedyard. In Exp. 2, steers grazed their respective pastures until each treatment reached an estimated HCW of 200 kg (262, 180, 142, and 74 d, respectively, for the CON, CORN, LGWP, and HGWP treatments), at which time a subset of steers (4 steers per treatment) were selected for intermediate harvest before finishing. In both experiments, the remaining steers were fed a finishing diet to a common 12th-rib fat thickness of 1.27 cm. In Exp. 1, winter grazing ADG was 0.19, 0.52, 0.68, and 1.37 ± 0.03 kg/d; and in Exp. 2, winter/summer grazing ADG was 0.46, 0.61, 0.83, and 1.29 ± 0.02 kg/d, respectively for CON, CORN, LGWP, and HGWP treatments. At intermediate harvest in Exp. 1, HGWP steers had greater (P < 0.01) 12th-rib fat thickness and marbling scores, compared with the other treatments. However, in Exp. 2, LGWP steers had greater (P < 0.01) marbling scores compared with HGWP steers, which were greater than DNR steers. At final harvest in Exp. 1, LGWP steers had greater (P < 0.01) 12th-rib fat thickness and smaller LM area, compared with the other treatments; however, there were no differences (P = 0.99) in final marbling scores. In Exp. 2, CON steers had lower (P < 0.05) 12th-rib fat thickness and tended (P = 0.10) to have greater marbling scores, compared with the other treatments. These data suggest that changes in the partitioning of fat among depots during the stocker phase may not be reflected after finishing when steers are fed to a common 12th-rib fat thickness.