Feedlot Performance Powered by Maine-Anjou
Pictured are Maine-Anjou steers on feed at South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D.
FEEDLOT PERFORMANCE Powered by Maine-Anjou Efficiency
by Joshua Cribbs, AMAA Commercial Developement Director
Fall is quickly approaching. This time last year, we were getting ready to source our first set of cattle – in sometime – for a University run research trial. Since coming on board with the American Maine-Anjou Association (AMAA), it has been my goal to help foster relationships between land grant universities and the AMAA. These connections allow us to create not only current and forward thinking, but data that is third party verified and significant from a results perspective. This plan was brought about so we could use the research for promotional materials, as well as to help build a commercial image for our breeders.
We were able to attain those goals with South Dakota State University (SDSU) and Dr. Zachary Smith, head of the feedlot and research facility and assistant professor. We hoped Dr. Smith and the SDSU would be a tremendous resource to verify the cattle that we all know have the power to perform in the yard. We sourced in a total of 190 steers from two breeders within South Dakota – because of the geographic region and closeness to the yard. The cattle were born in March and April of 2019, weaned and arrived to the feedyard in mid-October. Both Blake and myself, along with the AMAA Board of Directors at the time, had high hopes for the data when we embarked on this project. We wanted to debunk the fact that Maine-Anjou cattle couldn’t grade Choice. We wanted to confirm that we were going to cut large ribeye areas and generate low Yield Grades. We also wanted to know if the cattle could remain efficient in the process. What we were after is the confidence to go to bull buyers and say, “When you use MaineAnjou genetics your feeder calves will land in the yard and excel, make money, keep feed cost low, and look good while doing it.” All of which should keep yards and buyers coming back for more.
We were also hopeful to get published scientific journal articles that cite Maine-Anjou cattle as the breed used and in turn show they are a strong and viable option for research and the feedlot. We were able to secure the first of a couple manuscripts in July 2020 when Dr. Smith published and accepted the manuscript entitled:
Evaluation of an active live yeast (Levucell Saccharomyces cerevisiae, CNCM l-1077) on receiving and backgrounding period growth performance and efficiency of dietary net energy utilization in low health risk beef steers. This article is the first – of what should be a few – that document the trial and cattle performance while being placed on different trial periods throughout the entire feeding phase.
The cattle, as you can tell from the pictures, were phenotypically the kind of cattle you want to drive by and make bunk calls on. Backs were big, body shape and dimension bold and stout and 99% black hided with just a few baldies and white flanks. The cattle were a true testament to the breed’s progress and discipline over the last two decades to remove horns, keep them black hided and put do-ability into the cattle that can be counted on. The other thing worth noting is the cattle were made up of higher percentage Maine-Anjou and Maine-Angus based genetics.
Just like most of the world, the novel corona virus did affect us just a touch with regards to the harvest date on the cattle. They were shipped a bit ahead of time, due to the fact that Dr. Smith had trouble securing a harvest date because of virtually everything being shut down. The saving grace of securing a date was the fact that the cattle were black hided and had grade potential because of hide color advantage that Angus has secured in the market place. This advantage is something that Maine-Anjou breeders can certainly exploit to give the cattle a little extra value. Because of the quicker ship date, the group likely didn’t reach their full potential on the out weight, but they made up for it on the carcass side. In Table 1, the carcass/cut out data can be seen.
The other part of the trial that is important to mention is the actual feeding data. We saw multiple advantages during the finishing phase of the diet, but probably
Table 1 - Carcass/Cut out Data
Final BW Hot Carcass Weight 1,347 lb. 828 lb. 1. No Yield Grade 4 or Yield Grade 5 2. Final BW is unshrunk the most notable was a Feed to Gain of 5.84 to 1. With the feed to gain strong and the ribeye areas large, it brings to light that Maine-Anjou cattle can be efficient and generate lean tissue growth. Those things, combined with the right person designing the diets, show the cattle grade and aren’t discounted on the rail for being overly fat and under muscled. We can deliver the muscle side with the black hided advantage. At the moment, the details of treatment groups cannot be disclosed due
Yield Grade Avg. 2 REA 14.4 to the research contract Dr. Smith entered into when he put this group of cattle on feed. As more manuscripts are published, we will be sure to keep everyone up-todate.
Going forward, we hope to use this as an example of how Maine-Anjou genetics can be used in a research environment -that these animals can be counted on to perform. We also embrace the opportunity to use this information to build confidence in Maine genetics, both from the bull buyer and the cattle feeder.
Quality Grade 76% Choice or Better Yield 64