Let’s look at how these two groups of cattle compare in key performance categories.

Feedyard results

  • Days on feed: HGG steers stayed on feed 16 days longer. This is because they kept eating and had the genetic propensity to continue growing efficiently and reach a heavier finish weight. Feedyards appreciate this characteristic, especially when feeder cattle numbers are in as small supply as they are currently.
  • Dry feed intake: High-performance cattle tend to eat more feed on a daily basis. This is what we observed with the HGG group, which consumed 0.75 lb./head/day more than the LGG group. Eating more feed, above that needed for daily body maintenance, leaves more energy available for growth.
  • Average daily gain: HGG cattle outgained their lower-performing counterparts by 0.29 lb./day (8.7%) over the entire length of the feeding period.
  • Dry feed to gain: Also known as feed efficiency or feed conversion, the HGG group achieved a 5% advantage, which not only saves money in an era of high feed costs, but identifies them as better stewards of the high-priced feed they consumed.
  • Cost of gain: Cattle that gain fast and efficiently in the feedyard will have favorably low cost of gains. The HGG cattle beat their lower-performing peers by more than $5/cwt. of live weight gain (6%). Cattle with lower gain costs are simply more profitable to feed, in this case producing a $25-$30/head feed-savings advantage over the LGG group.

Carcass results

  • Dressing percent: Because value-based grids pay on a carcass weight basis, carcass weight as a percentage of live weight is important. HGGsteers had higher carcass yields as a percentage of their live weight by 0.5 percentage points as compared to LGGcattle.
  • Quality grade: Large differences in marbling and quality grade translate into big differences in value. More Prime and Choice, as well as more brand-beef qualifying carcasses give the HGG cattle a sizable economic advantage and make cattle feeders, packers and beef consumers happier in the process.
  • Yield grade: This is the only place the LGG group has a notable advantage (fewer Yield Grade 4s and 5s). Yield grades are important, but the resulting value benefit is fairly small compared to the disadvantage of fewer pounds and lower quality grades also seen in the LGG group.
  • Grid premium: Steers falling into the HGG classification beat the average market price by $39/head. In contrast, LGG steers were discounted by $13/head below the average market price. Total difference in grid premiums/discounts between the two groups added up to a whopping $52/head.

More total value, more profit

Greater top-line revenue and more profit is what the HGG group accomplished. Their total value was $159/head higher than the LGG steers. They grew faster and more efficiently, with lower cost of gain. They also produced more valuable carcasses and captured more brand-qualifying premiums, like those available on Certified Angus Beef®.

However, the good news does not stop there. The HGG cattle were more profitable by $80/head! Half of the additional top-line value they created worked its way right into bottom-line profits. That’s an excellent result. Every feedlot manager in the business will take as many of those type cattle as they can get.

Tom Brink is president and chief operation officer for J & F Oklahoma Holdings, Inc.