In a 2-yr study, spring-born yearling steers (n = 144), previously grown to gain <0.454 kg.steer(-1).d(-1), following weaning in the fall, were stratified by BW and randomly assigned to three retained ownership rearing systems (three replications) in early May. Systems were 1) feedlot (FLT), 2) steers that grazed perennial crested wheatgrass (CWG) and native range (NR) before FLT entry (PST), and 3) steers that grazed perennial CWG and NR, and then field pea-barley (PBLY) mix and unharvested corn (UC) before FLT entry (ANN). The PST and ANN steers grazed 181 d before FLT entry. During grazing, ADG of ANN steers (1.01 +/- SE kg/d) and PST steers (0.77 +/- SE kg/d) did not differ (P = 0.31). But even though grazing cost per steer was greater (P = 0.002) for ANN vs. PST, grazing cost per kg of gain did not differ (P = 0.82). The ANN forage treatment improved LM area (P = 0.03) and percent i.m. fat (P = 0.001). The length of the finishing period was greatest (P < 0.001) for FLT (142 d), intermediate for PST (91 d), and least for ANN (66 d). Steer starting (P = 0.015) and ending finishing BW (P = 0.022) of ANN and PST were greater than FLT steers. Total FLT BW gain was greater for FLT steers (P = 0.017), but there were no treatment differences for ADG, (P = 0.16), DMI (P = 0.21), G: F (P = 0.82), and feed cost per kg of gain (P = 0.61). However, feed cost per steer was greatest for FLT ($578.30), least for ANN ($276.12), and intermediate for PST ($381.18) (P = 0.043). There was a tendency for FLT steer HCW to be less than ANN and PST, which did not differ (P = 0.076). There was no difference between treatments for LM area (P = 0.094), backfat depth (P = 0.28), marbling score (P = 0.18), USDA yield grade (P = 0.44), and quality grade (P = 0.47). Grazing steer net return ranged from an ANN system high of $9.09/steer to a FLT control system net loss of -$298 and a PST system that was slightly less than the ANN system (-$30.10). Ten-year (2003 to 2012) hedging and net return sensitivity analysis revealed that the FLT treatment underperformed 7 of 10 yr and futures hedging protection against catastrophic losses were profitable 40, 30, and 20% of the time period for ANN, PST, and FLT, respectively. Retained ownership from birth through slaughter coupled with delayed FLT entry grazing perennial and annual forages has the greatest profitability potential.