U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version


Document Type



Published in Beef Research Program Progress Report, No. 4, Part 2 (May 1993)


Feed is a major part of the total cost in raising cattle from weaning to market-ready weights. Young bulls convert energy and protein from feeds to lean beef more efficiently than steers. Most consumers would prefer beef with less fat outside the muscle of retail cuts. Carcasses from bulls killed at about 17 months of age and weighing 1,300 to 1,450 pounds have less backfat; less kidney, pelvic, and heart fat; and yield more weight of closely trimmed retail product than carcasses of similarly managed steers. However, at this age carcasses of bulls also have less fat within the muscle and may be less tender. Production of beef from young bulls is a common practice in Europe. However, it remains a largely unused system in the United States. Aggressive and homosexual behaviors of bulls may explain part of the reluctance by U.S. feedlot operators toward feeding bull calves. In these studies we investigated factors under managerial control that might reduce undesirable behavior of young bulls and improve their performance.