British × Continental steers (initial BW = 484.6 kg) were fed at a commercial feed yard to evaluate the effects of β-agonists on live performance, carcass characteristics, and carcass subprimal yield. Weights and ultrasonic measurements were used to allocate steers to pens (n = 40) divided equally into 4 blocks, with 2 treatment replicates per block. Pens were randomly assigned to 1 of 5 treatments: control; ractopamine-HCl (RH) fed at 200 or 300 mg · steer-1 · d-1, or 400 mg · steer-1 · d-1 top dress for the final 30 d of feeding; or zilpaterol-HCl (ZH) fed at 7.5 mg/kg beginning 23 d before slaughter with a 3-d withdrawal period. Steers were harvested by block at a commercial facility over 4 wk. Carcass based performance measures were calculated using initial pen weights and actual DMI. From each pen, eight carcasses that were within ± 13.6 kg of the mean pen HCW were selected such that two carcasses were within each of the following four Yield Grade (YG) ranges: YG £ 2.8; 2.9-3.2; 3.3-3.5; YG > 3.5. Carcasses were fabricated by plant personnel to determine subprimal yield. Steers fed ZH had higher carcass-based ADG and carcass-based G:F compared with all other treatments (P < 0.05). Carcass-based ADG and carcass-based G:F were higher in RH treatments compared with controls (P < 0.05). Steers fed ZH had higher dressing percentages (1.0 to 1.6%) and larger LM area (4.3 to 6.7 cm2) than all other treatments (P < 0.05). Use of RH 400 and ZH increased HCW 6.3 and 11.1 kg, respectively compared with controls (P < 0.05). Compared with controls, RH 300 and ZH decreased marbling score and the frequency of carcasses qualifying for upper 2/3 Choice premiums (P < 0.05). Beta-agonists increased subprimal yield from the round and loin; however, blade meat was the only cut from the rib or chuck affected by β-agonists. Results from this study indicated improvements in performance and carcass traits as a result of β-agonist use; however, differences between ZH, RH 400, and RH 300 treatments were minimal for carcass traits and cutability. Increases in saleable yield following β-agonist use were not uniformly distributed across the four major primals and the majority of weight gain occurred in the lower priced cuts of the round and chuck. Increased response of the lower priced cuts to β-agonists could have economic implications to packers.
- Beef steers
- Subprimal yield