Use of Individual Feeding Behavior Patterns to Classify Beef Steers into Overall Finishing Performance and Carcass Characteristic Categories

C. H. Parsons, M. L. Galyean, R. S. Swingle, P. J. Defoor, G. A. Nunnery, G. B. Salyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Three hundred seventy beef steers were used to evaluate the possibility of using individual animal feeding behavior patterns early in the finishing period to classify overall finishing performance, carcass quality, or both. Feeding behavior variables included measures of time spent feeding (physically consuming feed at the bunk, i.e., head-down duration [HDD]), total feeding bout length (i.e., in-to-out duration [ITOD]), number of visits to the bunk per day (i.e., feeding frequency [FREQ]), and 2 ratios thought to reflect feeding intensity: 1) INT1 = HDD ÷ FREQ and 2) INT2 = HDD ÷ ITOD. Four comparison periods were used to describe individual animal feeding behaviors during different segments of the finishing program. Data were summarized by averaging each animal's HDD, ITOD, FREQ, INT1, and INT2 for the comparison period. Individual animal performance records for the overall finishing period were sorted into classification groups including: 1) ADG quartiles, 2) hot carcass weight (HCW) quartiles, 3) quality grades (QG) groups of Choice + Prime or Select + Standard, 4) yield grade (YG) groups of YG 1 + YG 2 or YG 3 + YG 4, and 5) liver abscess groups of no abscesses or abscessed livers at the time of slaughter. Discriminant analysis was used to determine the ability of feeding behavior data to correctly sort cattle into performance and carcass characteristic classification groups. Initial discriminant analysis indicated that classification accuracy was relatively low (1.4 to 60%), but the addition of initial BW to the feeding behavior variables only slightly improved accuracies. Animals correctly classified into performance classification groups ranged from 1.4 to 60% for ADG quartiles; 23.2 to 62.9% for HCW quartiles; 63.5 and 58.3% for Select + Standard and Choice + Prime, respectively; and 62.1 and 55.7% for YG 1 + YG 2 and YG 3 + YG 4, respectively. Our results suggest that feeding behavior was not very useful for classifying cattle into performance and carcass outcome groups, but further research with data collected under a variety of experimental conditions is needed to more fully explore relationships between feeding behavior measurements and cattle performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-371
Number of pages7
JournalProfessional Animal Scientist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004


  • Beef Steers
  • Carcass Characteristics
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Finishing Performance


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