Importance of Pre-arrival Management Practices to Operators of US Feedlot

Pre-arrival management practices can help reduce death loss and cattle sickness in feedlots. Implementing these practices in the early stages of the production process can help improve the resistance of cattle to infectious disease before they arrive in feedlots, according to the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
calendar icon 14 September 2012
clock icon 5 minute read

By identifying which pre-arrival practices are most important to feedlot operators, suppliers and other industry stakeholders can focus on the practices that are most beneficial and that might be financially rewarding. In addition, when feedlot cattle suppliers are aware of feedlot operators’ priorities, the health of the animals during the feeding phase and their subsequent growth can be optimized.

The US Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) conducted the Feedlot 2011 study, an in-depth look at large feedlots (1,000 head or more capacity) in 12 States2 and small feedlots (fewer than 1,000 head capacity) in 13 States.3

Large feedlots accounted for 82.1 per cent of the January 1, 2011, inventory of feedlot cattle in all US feedlots but only 2.8 per cent of all feedlots. The 12 participating States accounted for over 95 per cent of the inventory of cattle in large feedlots (NASS, Cattle on Feed, 18 February 2011). Small feedlots accounted for 16.0 per cent of the inventory on all US feedlots and 92.9 per cent of all US farms with cattle on feed. The 13 participating States accounted for 85.4 per cent of US farms with fewer than 500 cattle on feed and 90.5 per cent of the inventory on farms with fewer than 500 cattle on feed (NASS, 2007 Census of Agriculture). Study results presented in this information sheet reflect only large feedlots,4 which were divided into two groups: those with a capacity of 1,000 to 7,999 head and those with a capacity of 8,000 or more head.

As part of the NAHMS Feedlot 2011 study, operators were asked to assess a list of six pre-arrival management practices as extremely effective, very effective, somewhat effective, or not effective for reducing sickness or death loss. All six listed pre-arrival management practices were deemed to be extremely or very effective by at least 71.0 per cent of feedlots (figure 1).


Figure 1. per centage of feedlots in which the feedlot operator believed that the following pre-arrival management practices were extremely or very effective

The practice perceived by feedlot operators to be the most effective was castrating and dehorning calves at least 4 weeks prior to shipping (91.6 per cent of feedlots). Treating calves for external or internal parasites prior to shipping was believed to be extremely or very effective by the lowest per centage of feedlots (71.0 per cent). These results show that all listed prearrival practices have perceived importance, but some are thought to be more important than others.

The majority of feedlot operators sometimes received pre-arrival information on incoming cattle; however, a substantial per centage still lacked access to such information (figure 2). Operators on a higher per centage of feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 to 7,999 head (38.4 per cent) reported always having access to pre-arrival information compared with 25.9 per cent of operators on feedlots with a capacity of 8,000 or more head. Overall, operators on 53.2 per cent of feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 to 7,999 head and 70.1 per cent of feedlots with a capacity of 8,000 or more head were sometimes given information on pre-arrival practices. From these data, it is apparent that limitations still exist when attempting to pass information on pre-arrival practices to feedlots, especially for feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 to 7,999 head.


Figure 2. per centage of feedlots by frequency that pre-arrival information for cattle placed on feed was available, and by feedlot capacity

Operators on 69.3 per cent of all feedlots believed that pre-arrival processing information was very important (figure 3). These findings are consistent with the belief that these pre-arrival practices help to support the health and well-being of feedlot cattle through decreased sickness and death loss at the feedlot. Operators on an additional 23.8 per cent of all feedlots believed that information on pre-arrival processing was somewhat important. From these data, it is apparent that feedlot operators find great value in pre-arrival information.


Figure 3. per centage of feedlots by level of importance feedlot operator placed on pre-arrival proccessing information

Summary

Operators on feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head believed that pre-arrival processing was extremely or very effective in reducing sickness and death loss of cattle in feedlots. Castrating and dehorning calves at least 4 weeks prior to shipping was deemed by 91.6 per cent of feedlot operators as a very or extremely effective pre-arrival practice.

Although feedlot operators believed that pre-arrival management practices were crucial to the health of animals, information on pre-arrival processing was not always available to operators. Operators on only 34.7 per cent of all feedlots always had pre-arrival information available. This finding might reflect the challenge of moving data/information with shipped cattle, especially when many smaller groups of cattle are involved. Furthermore, the cost of transmitting data with the animals may be higher than the cost differential between those with and without data on pre-arrival management.

Improving the per centage of feedlots that always have pre-arrival information available should be an area of focus. Working with the different groups involved in the marketing channels to improve communication and consistency is one way that improvements can be made. In addition, developing a more systematic method of transferring data when the ownership of cattle is transferred from the supplier to the feedlot might help to increase the availability of pre-arrival processing information, which could improve the health of feedlot cattle in feedlots, a major concern for owners and consumers.

2 Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Washington.
3 Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin.
4 Information on small feedlots is available at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/feedlot/index.shtml

September 2012

© 2000 - 2022 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.