Fattening a steer

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I have a 10 month old steer that I need to butcher soon--was wondering what the best grain to feed is and how long to feed before butchering??? Thanks--Lynn

-- Lynn Royal (homesteadmama1@aol.com), January 12, 2001


I would mix up some crimped corn, pelletized beet pulp (swell it with water) and a 16% dairy grain. To really fatten him, I'd feed potatoes, especially if there were any potato farms with culls to sell. Our potato fed beef was some of the best we've ever produced, though I'd try to hang on to him until he's at least 14 months old. Anyway, we've done alot of experimenting with feeds over the last couple of years (mostly out of necessity), and the potatoes gave us outstanding results. E-mail if you have any questions.

-- Anne Tower (bbill@wtvl.net), January 12, 2001.

Were they your Potatoes? I saw this item on 20-20 about 3 years ago about how much poison they put on potatoes, the people who grow them won't eat them and they stay out of the fields for days after spraying. The growers have small plots near their house where they grow potatoes without all the poison for their own consumption. And since pesticides/herbicides/fungicdes all store in our fat it would seem dangerous to me to feed them something so laden with poison to fatten them up. We just feed grain and hay and our calves look and taste great. We always have 3/4th's angus and 1/4th Holstein calves, we never enter in the county fair but every year we take a beef about the time the fair is over and the guy ALWAYS ASKS IF THIS IS THE RESERVE GRAND CHAMPION. i ALWYS SAY NO BUT IT MAKES ME FEEL GOOD.

-- Artie Ann Karns (rokarns@arkansas.net), January 12, 2001.

Some thoughts:

Slaughtering at ten months is normally too early. The stage between being a large calf and a yearling (about 12-18 months) is normally the most economical as far as putting weight on cattle. They already have frame, and can now start putting on weight.

Some people consider Argentina to serve the world's best beef. It is not fattened, but comes to slaughter directly off grazing. Their secret? S-L-O-W cooking. A restaurant dinner there may start at 8 PM and run past midnight with multiple courses and meat served cut at the table directly off of chucks slow cooked in the center of the restaurant. (Plus, Americans tend to overcook beef - and vegetables also. I like my prime cuts medium-rare and slightly bloody.)

The purpose of 'fattening' a carcass is to add marbling. Here there is about as much difference within breeds as between breeds.

Then there is the difference between inter-musclar marbling (fat) and outside fat, which can be trimmed off. The more inter-musclar marbling, the faster it can be cooked, but then you have the fat whether you want it or not.

Most of the carcass is going to end up as hamburger. I assume you will have it processed at a local plant or meat locker. You can ask to have fat added to it from trimmings of other cuts to the fat percentage desired.

Some will say there is a huge difference between beef from an animal killed at home, who wasn't expected it, and one which goes to a processing plant. As soon as they are unloaded, they know their fate, get stressed and pump out additional adrenaline. In the slaughter trade ones who go excessive are know as 'dark cutters' since blood does not leave the meat as readily as a completely calm animal. (See another current thread about Kosher procedures.)

Corn is not a good fattening agent, or even feed, for cattle. Here you are basically wasting your feed money. Feed some and look at the manure afterwards, whether whole kernel or crushed. Cattle don't have gizzards.

I have a local friend who also runs cattle. He said he put pencil to paper and found the feed with the most bangs to the bucks was what are called locally range cubes. They are round extruded pieces about as large as a man's thumb. (I call them 'deranged cubes' since most of my cattle go nuts over them.)

If you have a feed mill locally, you can take in square baled hay and have it chopped up and mixed with whatever ingredients you want. This provides both fill (from the hay) and protein (from other ingredients). Salt and minerals can also be added. If you do this, be sure to have dried molasses added for taste.

Feeding pre-mixed bag feed can be expensive comepared to other alternatives.

I have seen one study which says dairy breeds actually produce tender meat than the standard beef breeds. (See the thread on Jersey Steer Mean.)

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), January 12, 2001.

We just butchered a Holstein steer, 18 months. The meat is delicious. I agree with the Argentine cooking advice! I figure the meat cost $1.80 lbs. to produce. This does not include labor. The meat is drug and poison free. And we raised it ourselves.

We still have the Jersy Though.

-- Paul Konstantino (ptkonstant@aol.com), January 19, 2001.

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