Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)

Use of anabolic implants in calves to increase weaning weight and background gains

S. M. Justice, Clemson University
B. Beer, Clemson University
G. S. Sell, Clemson University
J. G. Andrae, Clemson University


The main component of the beef industry in South Carolina is cow/calf operations. Recent advances in implant technology are being utilized to help these producers increase weights at time of sale to feedlots. The objective of this study was to determine how the use of anabolic implants in steer calves at 4 mo of age and at weaning altered weight gain at two different farm locations in South Carolina. Steers ( year 1; n= 161, year 2 n=116) from Edisto REC and Simpson REC were randomly allotted into two treatment groups: 1) no implant or 2) implant at 4 mo of age plus implant at weaning. Weights were obtained at implanting, weaning, and the end of backgrounding. Real-time ultrasound measurements of the ribeye area and fat thickness were collected at the end of the backgrounding period. Data were analyzed with the treatment, location, year, and the interaction in the model. Implanting the steers increased (P<0.001) average daily gains from implanting to weaning, weaning to the end of the backgrounding, and overall by 0.36, 0.15, 0.25 lb/hd/d respectively. Implanting also increased ribeye area by 0.34 in2. Weight and gains of the steers differed by location and year but there were no interactions between location, year, and implant treatment. The use of anabolic implants in steer calves at 4 mo of age and then again at weaning helped to increase weight gain, other desirable carcass traits and produced heavier steers for marketing.