Cattle Raising

Beef Backgrounding Production

Beef Backgrounding ProductionThe term “backgrounding” may be relatively new to some.
However, this management system is well known to both cow-calf producers and cattle feeders. Backgrounding is a beef production system that uses pasture and other forages from the time calves are weaned until they are placed in a feedlot. Calves generally gain from 100 to 400 pounds, depending on the available forages, ration fed, and length of time involved.

The weight gain comes primarily from muscle and frame development, with little from fattening.
These gains are accomplished as economically as possible by making maximum use of forages such as pasture, hay, and silage. Little, if any, grain is used in most backgrounding programs.


Before selecting a backgrounding program, be sure you have a good marketing plan. A marketing plan might include putting cattle in your own feedlot for finishing or selling them as feeders.

Purchases of calves should be grouped according to quality, weight, and sex to increase their value at market time. All animals should be preconditioned.
Preconditioning includes purchasing calves weaned about six weeks before normal sale time, started on feed, dehorning, vaccinating, deworming, castrating males, and perhaps implanting them with a growth promotant. These practices help ensure that the calves will stay healthy and have a good start in a backgrounding program.

Not every calf is suited for a backgrounding program. Generally, calves less than eight months of age in aboveaverage body condition are not suitable because they lose weight and condition rapidly when fed high roughage rations. Heifer calves also do not fit well into a lengthy backgrounding program. The exception would be for a cowcalf operation where backgrounding heifer calves would allow for a better selection of replacement heifers.

Steer calves weighing 400 to 600 pounds in thin to moderate condition are best suited for most backgrounding programs. These calves are ready for finishing when they reach 850 to 1,000 pounds and usually are in high demand by cattle feeders.

This publication was developed by the Small and Part-time Farming Project at Penn State with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Extension Service.


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notas anteriores
Feeding Beef Cattle
Dairy-beef Production
Managing the upbringing of calves after the weaning
Technical-economical model for the prevention of "babesiosis" and "anaplasmosis" in bovines
Production in vitro of bovine embryos


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