Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



The Professional Animal Scientist 26 ( 2010 ):595–602


Copyright 2010 American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists


A 2-yr study using 288 steers each year was conducted to determine the economic effects of sorting and feeding genetically similar cattle in different production systems. Steers were purchased at weaning in November and assigned randomly into sorted or unsorted groups. Unsorted steers were assigned randomly to 1 of 3 production systems: calf-fed steers (enter feedlot after weaning), summer yearling, or fall yearling; n = 48 steers per system yearly. For sorted steers, the heaviest third were calf fed and the remaining steers grazed cornstalks during winter. After winter grazing, the heaviest half of those steers were fed as summer yearlings, and the lightest half were fed as fall yearlings. Initial steer price was calculated using breakeven analysis for sorted calf-fed steers, and all other profits and losses are relative to sorted calf-fed steers, with a defined profit of $0/steer. Steer values were determined using 2007 average prices. Initial steer costs were greatest for sorted calf-fed steers and lowest for sorted fall yearlings. There were 2-way and a 3-way interaction for profit/loss. In yr 1, fall yearling gains on grass were normal, and the sorted fall yearlings were more profitable than were the sorted calf-fed steers. The reverse was true in the second year, when pasture gains of the fall yearlings were below normal. Marketing cattle on a grid decreased profit of summer yearlings because of low QG and decreased profitability of unsorted fall yearlings because of overweight carcasses. For the overall system, sorting did not increase profit on either a live or a grid-based marketing system.