Compensatory Gain on Pasture

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers

Knowledge Nuggets..

  • There are times when the actual animal weight gain is greater than normal. This situation is known as compensatory gain, which usually occurs following an extended period of slow growth or weight loss due to a low plane of nutrition.
  • Enhanced intake is often cited as the reason for compensatory gain.
  • Severity and duration of a feed restriction influences the ability of the animal to compensate. Response can be variable.
  • If animals that gain slower over the winter as a result of lower inputs can compensate during summer grazing, breakevens might be favorable.
  • Summer grazing produces excellent gains and gives opportunity for compensatory growth.
  • Maximizing pasture gains while the cost of gain is low reduces the overall breakeven costs of forage based grazing systems.
  • Compensatory gain can be economically advantageous in times of high feed costs if it is followed by times of low feed costs such as feeding backgrounding calves on a high cost winter diet followed by low cost summer pasture.
  • Compensatory growth has limits; rarely it is adequate to bring animals back to the same weight potential after having been on a slow growth-feeding program.
  • Although price premiums are often paid for calves held back nutritionally, the premium is rarely adequate to cover the increased cost of lowered performance.
  • Paying a premium when purchasing calves that have been nutritionally restricted may be appropriate in light of possible compensatory gain.
Fact Sheets

Grass Performance Beats Compensatory Gain

Research Papers

Compensatory Gain

Compensatory Growth and Slaughter Breakevens of Yearling Cattle

Effects of backgrounding and growing programs on beef carcass quality and yield - pdf format only

Effects of Rate of Gain During Periods of Restricted Intake on Performance and Carcass Characteristics in Steers Fed to Achieve Step-Wise Increases in Rate of Gain

Effects of receiving and growing diets on compensatory gains of stressed calves.

Predicting Amount of Compensatory Gain
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Linda Hunt.
This information published to the web on May 19, 2006.
Last Reviewed/Revised on May 11, 2017.

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