López-Campos, Ó., Aalhus, J. L., Larsen, I. L., Juárez, M. and Basarab, J. A. 2014. Effects of production system and growth promotants on the physiological maturity scores in steers. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 94: 607-617. Over a 2-yr period, 224 crossbred steers were allotted to a 2×2×2 factorial arrangement of treatments to determine the effect of the production system (calf-fed vs. yearling-fed), growth implant strategy (non-implanted vs. implanted) and β-agonist supplementation (no ractopamine vs. ractopamine) on physiological indicators of maturity. Dentition and ossification scores along the vertebral column were collected post-mortem during head inspection and grading. Dentition score was significantly affected (P<0.001) by production system, but not by implant (P=0.68) or β-agonist (P=0.31). There were significant interactions (P<0.001) between production system and implant strategy on the frequencies of carcasses showing ossification in the thoracic, lumbar and sacral vertebral processes. There was a significant interaction (P<0.0001) between the production system and implant strategy on the frequencies of the carcasses considered as <21 or >21 mo of age based on a segregation model using only physiological maturity assessments. These data emphasize the inability of physiological scores to accurately reflect chronological age, with overall classification accuracies of 0.68 and 0.53 for dentition and ossification scores. The highest overall classification accuracies were obtained using the thoracic (0.74) or lumbar (0.69) ossification scores. Implants accelerate the ossification process, particularly in younger animals, thus having a dramatic effect on numbers of animals eligible to be categorized as <21 mo of age based on physiological maturity evaluation.
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