Sixty-three Angus x Simmental calves were allotted to a bull or a steer group based on sire, birth date, and birth weight to determine effects of castration status on performance, carcass characteristics, and circulating insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) concentrations in early-weaned cattle. At 75 d of age, calves in the steer group were castrated. Calves were not creep-fed prior to weaning. All calves were weaned and weighed at an average age of 115 d and transported by truck to the OARDC feedlot in Wooster, OH. Performance and carcass characteristics were measured in three phases. Phase 1 was from 115 to 200 d of age, phase 2 was from 201 to 277 d of age, and phase 3 was from 278 d of age to slaughter. Before implantation, four bulls and four steers were selected for serial slaughter and carcass evaluation. Steers were implanted with Synovex-C at 130 d of age and with Revalor-S at 200 and 277 d of age. Serum samples were collected from all calves on the day of implantation, 28 and 42 d after implantation, and at slaughter and analyzed for circulating IGF-I concentration. Bulls gained 9.7% faster (1.75 vs 1.60 kg/d; P < 0.01), consumed 25 kg more DM (521 vs 496 kg; P = 0.11), and were 3.3% more efficient (282 vs 273 g/kg, P < 0.10) than steers in phase 1. However, steers gained 10.5% faster (1.62 vs 1.46 kg/d; P < 0.02), consumed similar amounts of DM, and were 6.5% more efficient than bulls (214 vs 201 g/kg; P < 0.06) in phase 2. Overall gains and efficiency were similar between bulls and steers; however, bulls consumed 140 kg more DM (P < 0.05), were 27 kg heavier (P < 0.05), and had to stay in the feedlot 18 more days (P < 0.05) than steers to achieve a similar amount of fat thickness. Implanted steers had greater concentrations of circulating IGF-I than bulls (P < 0.01), and the pattern of IGF-I concentration over time was affected by castration status (castration status x time interaction; P < 0.01). Synovex-C had a lower impact on circulating IGF-I concentration (implant effect, P < 0.01) than either Revalor-S implant. Eighty-five percent of both bulls and steers had marbling scores sufficient to grade low Choice or better. Bulls achieved their target fat thickness later, increased muscle growth, and deposited fat more favorably than steers, possibly due to a gradual increase in IGF-I concentration as the testicles grew rather than the large fluctuations in IGF-I concentration observed in steers following implantation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology