Information on the performance of Malawi Zebu and cross-bred steers fed for beef in Malawi was analysed. Steers had been fattened by small holder farmers using a low input system based on agricultural and household residues. The mean stall feeding period in the Southern region of Malawi (Blantyre) was 188 days, with an average daily gain of 0.59kg. Steers in the Central Region (Lilongwe) were fed for 213 days and gained 0.50kg per day. The mean carcass weight from Southern and Central Regions was 210 and 194kg with an average dressing percentage of 52.3. Gain was influenced by date of feeding period, breed (indicated by starting weight) by month interaction and age. Breeds did not differ in rate of gain but when this was divided by metabolic body weight, Malawi Zebu (i.e. smaller animals) were superior to cross-bred steers. It was concluded that an effective fattening system can be based on locally available resources and that a similar system could be adopted in other parts of the developing world.