Pasture to plate cooperation needed to please consumers

US - A good eating experience for the consumer is the result of efforts across the entire beef industry.
calendar icon 16 March 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

“We need to control things from the pasture to the plate if we expect to maintain beef quality,” says Fred Owens, Oklahoma State University professor emeritus and research scientist. Owens, with experience at each link in the chain, spoke at a Feeding Quality Forum, co-sponsored by Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) last fall. Starting with cow-calf producers, he outlines the needed focus. “Certainly the first step is sire selection and using EPDs (expected progeny differences),” Owens says. Emphasis should be placed on the Angus breed, calm disposition, polled cattle and smaller mature size for maintenance. “Electronic identification (EID) of calves can help trace feedlot performance and carcass quality back to the cow, and such data should guide cow culling decisions,” he says. Weaning and creep feeding will add value to the calves, along with castration at birth and vaccinations.

“Benefits from information transfer can be obtained most readily, and fed back to the cow-calf enterprise, when the producer retains ownership,” Owens says. The stocker operator can affect quality by buying only pre-conditioned, tame calves that have had appropriate vaccines and parasite controls.

“Then you need to maintain rate of gain with supplemental feed during drought or snow cover,” he says. For maximum beef quality, skip growth implants when backgrounding, he recommends.

Feedlots should select cattle the same way as stocker operators: “Then they should feed balanced, high-concentrate diets, adding ionophores and other compounds as appropriate,” Owens says; “and again, no implants for maximum beef quality.”

Sorting fed cattle to avoid excess fat cover and heavy carcasses is a must.

Source: Drovers

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