Purpose of the study was to integrate pasturing systems with drylot feeding systems and to compare performance, carcass characteristics and profitability of steers finished in the feedlot or backgrounded for various time on pasture and finished in the feedlot. For this purpose a three-year study, using 84 fall-born and 28 spring-born calves of similar genotypes each year, was designed. Fall and spring-born calves were started on test in May and October, respectively. Seven treatments were imposed: (1) fall-born calves directly into feedlot (FEEDLOT); (2 and 3) fall-born calves put on pasture with or without an ionophore and moved to the feedlot at the end of July (JI, JNI); (4 and 5) fall-born calves put on pasture with or without an ionophore and moved to the feedlot at the end of October (OI, ONI); (6 and 7) spring-born calves put on pasture with or without an ionophore and moved to the feedlot at the end of October (SI, SNI). Cattle on pasture receiving ionophore tended to gain faster (p>0.11), but lost this advantage in drylot (p>0.10). Overall, cattle started directly in the feedlot gained faster (p<0.001). All treatment groups graded 75% Choice or higher. Cattle started directly in the feedlot were the least profitable ($-46 vs $2; p<0.001). These results indicate that cattle fed on pasture for varying periods of time produced acceptable carcasses and that carcass price was an important variable affecting profitability. Thus, the timing of marketing is critical for optimizing profit.