Skip to main content Accessibility help

Growth performance and carcass traits of steers finished on three different systems including legume–grass pasture and grain diets

  • A. P. B. Fruet (a1), F. S. Stefanello (a1), F. Trombetta (a1), A. N. M. De Souza (a2), A. G. Rosado Júnior (a3), C. J. Tonetto (a3), J. L. C. Flores (a3), R. B. Scheibler (a4), R. M. Bianchi (a5), P. S. Pacheco (a6), A. De Mello (a7) and J. L. Nörnberg (a1)...


Inclusion of legume in grass pastures optimizes protein values of the forage and promotes improved digestibility. Therefore, we hypothesized that finishing steers on a novel combination of legumes and grass pasture would produce carcasses with acceptable traits when compared to carcasses from steers finished in feedlot systems. In this study, we evaluated the effects of finishing steers on three systems including: grazing legume–grass pasture containing oats, ryegrass, white and red clover (PAST), grazing PAST plus supplementation with whole corn grain (14 g/kg BW (SUPP)), and on a feedlot-confined system with concentrate only (28 g/kg BW, consisting of 850 g/kg of whole corn grain and 150 g/kg of protein–mineral–vitamin supplement (GRAIN)) on growth performance of steers, carcass traits and digestive disorders. Eighteen steers were randomly assigned to one of three dietary treatments and finished for 91 days. Data regarding pasture and growth performance were collected during three different periods (0 to 28, 29 to 56 and 57 to 91 days). Subsequently, steers were harvested to evaluate carcass traits, presence of rumenitis, abomasitis and liver abscesses. The legume–grass pasture provided more than 19% dry matter of protein. In addition, pasture of paddocks where steers were assigned to SUPP and PAST treatments showed similar nutritional quality. When compared to PAST, finishing on SUPP increased total weight gain per hectare, stocking rate, daily and total weight gains. The increase of weight gain was high to GRAIN than SUPP and PAST. Steers finished on GRAIN had high hot carcass weight, fat thickness and marbling score when compared to PAST. However, these attributes did not differ between GRAIN and SUPP. Abomasum lesions were more prevalent in steers finished on GRAIN when compared to PAST. Results of this research showed that it is possible to produce carcasses with desirable market weight and fat thickness by finishing steers on legume–grass pasture containing oats, ryegrass, white and red clover. Moreover, supplementing steers with corn when grazing on legume–grass pasture produced similar carcass traits when compared to beef fed corn only.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Aguerre, M, Cajarville, C, Kozloski, GV and Repetto, JL 2013. Intake and digestive responses by ruminants fed fresh temperate pasture supplemented with increased levels of sorghum grain: A comparison between cattle and sheep. Animal Feed Science and Technology 186, 1219.
Allen, VG, Batello, C, Berretta, EJ, Hodgson, J, Kothmann, M, Li, X, McIvor, J, Milne, J, Morris, C, Peeters, A and Sanderson, M 2011. An international terminology for grazing lands and grazing animals. Grass and Forage Science 66, 228.
American Meat Science Association 2001. Meat evaluation handbook, 1st edition. AMSA, Champaign, IL, USA.
Association of Official Analytical Chemists 1995. Official methods of analysis, 16th edition. AOAC, Gaithersburg, MD, USA.
Bach, A, Calsamiglia, S and Stern, MD 2005. Nitrogen metabolism in the rumen. Journal of Dairy Science 88, S9S21.
Bargo, F, Muller, LD, Kolver, ES and Delahoy, JE 2003. Invited review: production and digestion of supplemented dairy cows on pasture. Journal of Dairy Science 86, 142.
Bigham, ML and Mcmanus, WR 1975. Whole wheat grain feeding of lambs. Effects of roughage and wheat grain mixtures. Austrian Journal of Agricultural Research 26, 10531062.
Brink, DR, Lowry, SR, Stock, RA and Parrot, JC 1990. Severity of liver abscesses and efficiency of feed utilization of feedlot cattle. Journal of Animal Science 68, 12011207.
Buxton, DR, Hornstein, JS, Wedin, WF and Marten, GC 1985. Forage quality in stratified canopies of alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil, and red clover. Crop Science 25, 273279.
Campbell, NA and Arnold, GW 1973. The visual assessment of pasture yield. Austrian Journal of Experimental Agriculture and Animal Husbandry 13, 253267.
Campos, FP, Nicácio, DRO, Sarmento, P, Cruz, MCP, Santos, TM, Faria, AFG, Ferreira, ME, Conceição, MRG and Lima, CG 2016. Chemical composition and in vitro ruminal digestibility of hand-plucked samples of Xaraes palisade grass fertilized with incremental levels of nitrogen. Animal Feed Science and Technology 215, 112.
Carrère, P, Louault, F, De Faccio Carvalho, PC, Lafarge, M and Soussana, JF 2001. How does the vertical and horizontal structure of a perennial ryegrass and white clover sward influence grazing? Grass and Forage Science 56, 118130.
Carvalho, JRR, Chizzotti, ML, Schoonmaker, JP, Teixeira, PD, Lopes, RC, Oliveira, CVR and Ladeira, MM 2016. Performance, carcass characteristics, and ruminal pH of Nellore and Angus young bulls fed a whole shelled corn diet. Journal of Animal Science 94, 24512459.
Chail, A, Legako, JF, Pitcher, LR, Griggs, TC, Ward, RE, Martini, S and MacAdam, JW 2016. Legume finishing provides beef with positive human dietary fatty acid ratios and consumer preference comparable with grain-finished beef. Journal of Animal Science 94, 21842197.
Dierking, RM, Kallenbach, RL and Grün, IU 2010. Effect of forage species on fatty acid content and performance of pasture-finished steers. Meat Science 85, 597605.
Duckett, SK, Neel, JPS, Lewis, RM, Fontenot, JP and Clapham, WN 2013. Effects of forage species or concentrate finishing on animal performance, carcass and meat quality. Journal of Animal Science 91, 14541467.
Fruet, APB, Stefanello, FS, Rosado Júnior, AG, De Souza, ANM, Tonetto, CJ and Nörnberg, JL 2016. Whole grains in the finishing of culled ewes in pasture or feedlot: performance, carcass characteristics and meat quality. Meat Science 113, 97103.
Gierus, M, Kleen, J, Loges, R and Taube, F 2012. Forage legume species determine the nutritional quality of binary mixtures with perennial ryegrass in the first production year. Animal Feed Science and Technology 172, 150161.
Graves, ME, Mclean, N, Jones, G and Martin, RC 2012. Pasture and sheep performance response to sod-seeding red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) or white clover (Trifolium repens L.) into naturalized pastures in eastern Canada. Animal Feed Science and Technology 177, 714.
Hara, A and Radin, NS 1978. Lipid extraction of tissues of low toxicity solvent. Analytical Biochemistry 90, 420426.
Heringer, I and Carvalho, PCF 2002. Stocking rate adjustment in grazing experiments: a new approach. Ciência Rural 32, 675679.
Hund, A, Beer, T and Wittek, T 2016. Abomasal ulcers in slaughtered cattle in Austria. Tierärztliche Praxis 44, 17.
Huntington, GB 1997. Starch utilization by ruminants: from basics to the bunk. Journal of Animal Science 75, 852867.
Li, XZ, Yan, CG, Gao, QS, Yan, Y, Choi, SH and Smith, SB 2018. Adipogenic/lipogenic gene expression and fatty acid composition in chuck, loin, and round muscles in response to grain feeding of Yanbian Yellow cattle. Journal of Animal Science 96, 26982709.
Lunt, DK, Smith, GC, Mckeith, FK, Savell, JW, Riewe, ME, Horn, FP and Coleman, SW 1985. Techniques for predicting beef carcass composition. Journal of Animal Science 60, 12011207.
Mader, CJ, Montanholi, YR, Wang, VJ, Miller, SP, Mandell, IB, Mcbride, BW and Swanson, KC 2009. Relationships among measures of growth performance and efficiency with carcass traits, visceral organ mass, and pancreatic digestive enzymes in feedlot cattle. Journal of Animal Science 87, 15481557.
Mott, GO 1984. Relationship of available forage and animal performance in tropical grazing systems. In Proceedings of the American Forage Grassland Council, 23-26 January 1984, Houston, TX, USA, pp. 373377.
Mott, GO and Lucas, HL 1952. The design, conduct, and interpretation of grazing trials in cultivated and improved pastures. In Proceedings of the 6th International Grassland Congress, 17–23 August 1952, Pennsylvania, PA, USA, pp. 13801385.
National Research Council (NRC) 2000. Nutrient requirements of beef cattle, 7th revised edition. National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA.
Noro, G, Scheffer-Basso, SM, Fontanelli, RS and Andreatta, E 2003. Winter annual grasses for forage production: a preliminary evaluation of cultivars. Agrociência 7, 3540.
Oliveira, CA and Millen, DD 2014. Survey of the nutritional recommendations and management practices adopted by feedlot cattle nutritionists in Brazil. Animal Feed Science and Technology 197, 6475.
Ørskov, ER, Deb Hovell, FD and Mould, F 1980. The use of the nylon bag technique for the evaluation of feedstuffs. Tropical Animal Production 5, 195213.
Owens, FN, Gill, DR, Secrist, DS and Coleman, SW 1995. Review of some aspects of growth and development of feedlot cattle. Journal of Animal Science 73, 31523172.
Patino, HO, Medeiros, FS, Pereira, CH, Swanson, KC and Mcmanus, C 2015. Productive performance, meat quality and fatty acid profile of steers finished in confinement or supplemented at pasture. Animal 9, 966972.
Penner, GB, Steele, MA, Aschenbach, JR and Mcbride, BW 2011. Ruminant nutrition symposium: molecular adaptation of ruminal epithelia to highly fermentable diets. Journal of Animal Science 89, 11081119.
Poppi, DP and McLennan, SR 1995. Protein and energy utilization by ruminants at pasture. Journal of Animal Science 73, 278290.
Realini, CE, Font i Furnols, M, Sañudo, C, Montossi, F, Oliver, MA and Guerrero, L 2013. Spanish, French and British consumers’ acceptability of Uruguayan beef, and consumers’ beef choice associated with country of origin, finishing diet and meat price. Meat Science 95, 1421.
Redfearn, DD, Venuto, BC, Pitman, WD, Alison, MW and Ward, JD 2002. Cultivar and environmental effects on annual ryegrass forage yield, yield distribution, and nutritive value. Crop Science 42, 20492054.
Roberts, SD, Kerth, CR, Branden, KW, Rankins, DL Jr, Kriese-Anderson, L and Prevatt, JW 2009. Finishing steers on winter annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) with varied levels of corn supplementation I: effects on animal performance, carcass traits, and forage quality. Journal of Animal Science 87, 26902699.
Schwaiger, T, Beauchemin, KA and Penner, GB 2013. The duration of time that beef cattle are fed a high-grain diet affects the recovery from a bout of ruminal acidosis: dry matter intake and ruminal fermentation. Journal of Animal Science 91, 57295742.
Sleugh, B, Moore, KJ, George, JR and Brummer, EC 2000. Binary legume-grass mixtures improve forage yield, quality, and seasonal distribution. Agronomy Journal 92, 2429.
Van Soest, PJ, Robertson, JB and Lewis, BA 1991. Methods for dietary fiber, neutral detergent fiber, and nonstarch polysaccharides in relation to animal nutrition. Journal of Dairy Science 74, 35833597.
Vinther, FP 2006. Effects of cutting frequency on plant production, N-uptake and N2 fixation in above- and below-ground plant biomass of perennial ryegrass–white clover swards. Grass and Forage Science 61, 154163.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed