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Abstract

A two-year study of early vs. normal weaning of steer calves was conducted in the western Dakotas in 2003-04. The analysis concludes that early weaning improves feedlot production efficiency and reduces per-day and per-pound feedlot production costs. However, early weaned steers are lighter at slaughter; therefore, early weaning lowers carcass revenue relative to normal weaning. The early weaning effect on the profitability of retaining calves through the feedlot stage was not statistically significant. However, the analysis indicates that early weaning does have a positive effect on cow health, pasture utilization rates, and that it therefore has the potential to be an effective drought management tool for grazing cattle during periods of inadequate precipitation

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