Basic concepts in designing or re-modeling feedlot facilities

US - Researching, evaluating and sourcing information for improving feedlot facilities are tasks typically conducted by feedlot owners and managers at least once a year.
calendar icon 22 November 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
However, due to shrinking budgets, and long-term pay back, few research institutions or private consulting firms have spent the necessary financial or time resources to properly address these issues.
Due to increased pressure from environmental regulations or accountability for animal welfare to the consumer, feedlot facility design and management is fast becoming an area of focus for feedlot operators and allied industry.

In addition, feedlot margins are extremely narrow, and with rising grain and fuel prices, efforts to retain profitability should also focus on making cattle comfortable with adequate access to feed, water and shelter, and their facilities properly ventilated.

The term CAV can be applied to comfort, access (to feed, water and shelter), and ventilation to remind feedlot managers of the key points that facilities design should address:

- Comfort: For most feedlots in the Upper Midwest it should simple refer to whether cattle are dry, and have sufficient space to bed down. Most estimates of the thermoneutral zone of cattle rely on whether the hair coat is deep (adapted to winter and/or from a breed that adapts to winter) and its condition (whether it is dry or covered with mud or water). Therefore, it is the job of the feedlot operator to provide sufficient bedding and shelter to maintain the hair coat of cattle dry.

Additionally, sufficient space should be given for cattle to be able to bed down. It is difficult to provide a reliable estimate as to how much is sufficient bedding. Factors such as lot design, whether it is under shelter, and stocking density determine this value.

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