What happens on a feedlot?

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Calhoun Farm
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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby Calhoun Farm » Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:04 pm

So if the feedlot don't own the cattle where do all these cattle go that order buyers purchase?
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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby Dave » Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:49 pm

Calhoun Farm wrote:So if the feedlot don't own the cattle where do all these cattle go that order buyers purchase?


They go to the people who are paying the feedlots to feed them.
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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby Hook » Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:09 pm

Mcdonalds, walmart, Burger King, Ruth's Chris, and any other Restaraunt that wants to determine how the quality ( high or low) is.
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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby djinwa » Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:02 am

I once spent some time as a consultant for a feedlot of a family friend. Until he found someone who would authorize drugs without asking questions. Here are some things to ponder.

Economics drives how cattle are weaned, sorted, transported to feedyards, and fed.

Some argue that you do not have the right to make cattle sick for economics. Not sure the logic of subjecting them to stress or feed that will make them sick, then giving antibiotics for the purpose of "animal welfare".

Since ruminants are not designed for the high carbohydrate diets they are fed, do you see the industry backing off on how much grain is fed, or will they keep having to rely on antibiotics to prevent liver abscesses, etc?

Since stress of weaning, saleyards, shipping, and adapting to feedyards is the underlying cause of much sickness, do you see any big changes in how animals are handled, e.g. feeding at the ranch, or feeding locally? Or will we have to keep relying on antibiotics? I recall in an older version of the Merck Manual a veterinarian stating in regard to the stress in feedlot calves, "We shouldn't ask why any get sick, but we should ask why any of them live."

In other words, suppose that antibiotics were not available. What would feedlots have to do differently to reduce morbidity and mortality?

I have heard for years that anitibiotic use would be restricted or banned. For example, this veterinarty panel discussed liver abscesses in 2000, and possible antibiotic bans as exist in Europe. And how our industry accepts a 15% rate of liver abscesses based on economics.
http://feedlotmagazine.com/archive/arch ... ticle.html

I happened to see a Dr. Oz show a few days ago in which antibiotics in meat was discussed (not technically accurate), more a resistance problem than antibiotic residues. He posted a statement from the FDA about coming restrictions on antibiotic use. But I have my doubts considering billions of dollars at stake for the grain and drug industries.
http://www.doctoroz.com/page/fda-statem ... tance-meat

Like it or not, these issues aren't going away, especially in the information age.
http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/could-a ... g-you-sick
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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby milkmaid » Tue Oct 07, 2014 1:50 am

I've seen cattle dropped a couple percentage points in grain, and the difference made up with an additional 1-2 lbs/hd/day of hay (doesn't sound like much, but it is) to reduce liver abscesses. Sometimes prevention is going to involve feed time (arrival within 30 minutes of the same time each day), amount, proper mixing of the ration, etc. Cattle that sort or gorge are going to be at higher risk for ruminal acidosis and later liver abscesses.

There's been some huge changes in cattle management at feedlots over the past few decades. I was browsing a production medicine textbook from the 1980s the other night and the values the book suggested as standard (morbidity, mortality, case fatality, % cause of death by disease) are drastically different than what we currently accept as benchmarks. I have a few veterinary textbooks from the early 1900s and it's amusing what people believed and did then. The expected health status of feedlot cattle in a 3rd edition of Mercks is much different than the comfortable cattle we see in yards now. I expect we'll see more changes (primarily performance and more effective pulling sick cattle) in the next few decades as well. There's some new technology on the horizon that monitors time spent eating at the bunk, and pulls cattle based on intake. It's looking like it averages about 5 days before the pen riders can pick out the sick animals.

2000 was 14 years ago... as for Tylan, one study of about 8,000 head found 28% liver abscesses in control cattle and 0.5% in cattle on Tylan. I wouldn't say we accept a 15% rate.

The question is not what feedlots should do differently to reduce morbidity and mortality - the die was cast before the cattle ever arrived at the yard. We work with what we're given, but we can't fix immunocompromised, mineral deficient, parasite ridden, unvaccinated, weaned-on-the-truck calves for the owner. The question is: what does the cow-calf producer need to do differently to move their calves from high risk to low risk?

We don't need metaphylaxsis on low risk calves and we rarely pull or treat those animals. It's said that >90% of the pulls come from <8% of the pens - and it's not because 90% of the pens get special treatment at the feedlot.
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Basics needed to answer questions: age, weight, breed, sex. # affected vs # in group, feed type/amount, prior vaccinations, deworming, antibiotics, any recent changes....

More info = better answers.

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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby inyati13 » Tue Oct 07, 2014 5:23 am

Excellent topic and a great post to begin it. mm, I ask you this question in a Private Message. I will state it again as your post immediately above this raises the issue of what the producer can do.

As a producer and a person who believes that higher life has intrinsic value; they are aware of their existence. Therefore, I adhere to a set of self-imposed standards for the preparation of my feeder calves. I do not concern myself with what other producers are doing other than participation in organizations like the Kentucky Cattleman Association which strives to improve the husbandry of cattle. I don't spend my time pondering the "rights and wrongs" that occur on this planet. But there are people who do and more power to them.

Above you stated, "The question is: what does the cow-calf producer need to do differently to move their calves from high risk to low risk?"

My question: Do the feedlots track the source of their livestock so they can reward those who are putting an effort into proper preparation. If I remember, you answered that question in a PM. Going a little further: I wean my calves, I convert them to high carbohydrate feed, I vaccinate them, I adapt them to direct human intervention, etc. I hope that results in less stress when they start the journey from my farm to the slaughter house. I hope my preparations provide them with a higher quality of life. I don't worry about the end of their life. Death is a tranquill state of non-existence. I want them to "enjoy" their state of existence.

Now my issue: The producers that have good protocols and prepare their products for the "feedlot" should get a reward in the form of higher prices. That does not happen here. My neighbor jerks his calves straight off the cow and ships them. He never puts a needle in a calf unless the vet comes to treat one that is sick. His calves sell for the same amount as mine do. So the average guy who does not prepare his calves in the proper manner has no incentive other than his personal values and standards.
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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby dun » Tue Oct 07, 2014 7:08 am

inyati13 wrote:Now my issue: The producers that have good protocols and prepare their products for the "feedlot" should get a reward in the form of higher prices. That does not happen here. My neighbor jerks his calves straight off the cow and ships them. He never puts a needle in a calf unless the vet comes to treat one that is sick. His calves sell for the same amount as mine do. So the average guy who does not prepare his calves in the proper manner has no incentive other than his personal values and standards.

If there are preconditoned sales they usually pay more, or calves that are entered in one of the Pfizer vac programs and the proper documentation is provided generally bring more. That is in this area, not sure about any others. Iff your salebarns don;t support those types of sales either discuss it with them or find a salebarn that does.
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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby milkmaid » Tue Oct 07, 2014 7:15 am

Here's the thing Ron - go back and re-read the descriptions of high risk vs low risk calves.

Concept #1: When they're sold in groups of 15 at a sale barn where they'll be co-mingled with calves from ten other sources, the fact that they've had one set of vaccines prior to sale just makes them "high risk" as opposed to "ultra high risk."

Concept #2: Feedlots talk about the price spread between high risk and low risk cattle. When the market is low, there's a wide spread between the price paid for HR vs LR. They can lose HR calves, even 15% of them, and still make money on the group when the calves are cheap. Yes- the yard managers really do say they pay differently depending on the risk category of the cattle. Right now the market is high and there's not much of a spread. Buyers would prefer LR calves because it costs too much to lose the HR ones, but they buy anything available right now because they can't keep the yard full.

Concept #3: You may have discovered why some people prefer to retain ownership. If you're selling small groups of calves under 800 lbs at the sale, the only benefit you may ever see to preconditioning is your own sense of satisfaction. I've seen some organizations help compile small groups for producers so the guys who don't have enough cattle for a lot (usually 100-200 hd) can still retain ownership through the yard. There may be other options for you; as dun mentioned, with documentation that indicates they might have a lower morbidity after purchase, they can be worth more.
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Basics needed to answer questions: age, weight, breed, sex. # affected vs # in group, feed type/amount, prior vaccinations, deworming, antibiotics, any recent changes....

More info = better answers.

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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby highgrit » Tue Oct 07, 2014 7:17 am

It's the same all over Inyati my neighbors get good prices for cattle that haven't been vaccinated or weaned. But I'm going to keep wasting my time and money doing what I feel is right. We adhere to the BQA program and the auctioneer announced it before our calves were sold in the ring. But the difference in price wasn't worth the effort. I'm going to try and sell off the farm next time, we're proud of most of the calves we raise.
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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby Dave » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:21 am

A few years back there was a group of unvaccinated calves selling on Superior. The bidding had stalled out. The owner must have been in the room because things came to a halt for a few seconds, you could hear talking in the background, and then the auctioneer announced that the calves would be vaccinated before shipping. The bidding took off and the calves brought an additional 20 cents. Superior ran that video for a while as a promotion on how vaccinated calves would bring more money.
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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby Brute 23 » Tue Oct 07, 2014 8:04 pm

Very informative. Thanks
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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby sim.-ang.king » Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:06 pm

djinwa wrote:I once spent some time as a consultant for a feedlot of a family friend. Until he found someone who would authorize drugs without asking questions. Here are some things to ponder.

Economics drives how cattle are weaned, sorted, transported to feedyards, and fed.

Some argue that you do not have the right to make cattle sick for economics. Not sure the logic of subjecting them to stress or feed that will make them sick, then giving antibiotics for the purpose of "animal welfare".

Since ruminants are not designed for the high carbohydrate diets they are fed, do you see the industry backing off on how much grain is fed, or will they keep having to rely on antibiotics to prevent liver abscesses, etc?

Since stress of weaning, saleyards, shipping, and adapting to feedyards is the underlying cause of much sickness, do you see any big changes in how animals are handled, e.g. feeding at the ranch, or feeding locally? Or will we have to keep relying on antibiotics? I recall in an older version of the Merck Manual a veterinarian stating in regard to the stress in feedlot calves, "We shouldn't ask why any get sick, but we should ask why any of them live."

In other words, suppose that antibiotics were not available. What would feedlots have to do differently to reduce morbidity and mortality?

I have heard for years that anitibiotic use would be restricted or banned. For example, this veterinarty panel discussed liver abscesses in 2000, and possible antibiotic bans as exist in Europe. And how our industry accepts a 15% rate of liver abscesses based on economics.
http://feedlotmagazine.com/archive/arch ... ticle.html

I happened to see a Dr. Oz show a few days ago in which antibiotics in meat was discussed (not technically accurate), more a resistance problem than antibiotic residues. He posted a statement from the FDA about coming restrictions on antibiotic use. But I have my doubts considering billions of dollars at stake for the grain and drug industries.
http://www.doctoroz.com/page/fda-statem ... tance-meat

Like it or not, these issues aren't going away, especially in the information age.
http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/could-a ... g-you-sick


Hey dijinwa, don't forget to throw in about Black cattle with hot rectums, and e-coli.



:lol2: :roll: :deadhorse:
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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby boondocks » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:52 pm

inyati13 wrote:Excellent topic and a great post to begin it. mm, I ask you this question in a Private Message. I will state it again as your post immediately above this raises the issue of what the producer can do.

As a producer and a person who believes that higher life has intrinsic value; they are aware of their existence. Therefore, I adhere to a set of self-imposed standards for the preparation of my feeder calves. I do not concern myself with what other producers are doing other than participation in organizations like the Kentucky Cattleman Association which strives to improve the husbandry of cattle. I don't spend my time pondering the "rights and wrongs" that occur on this planet. But there are people who do and more power to them.

Above you stated, "The question is: what does the cow-calf producer need to do differently to move their calves from high risk to low risk?"

My question: Do the feedlots track the source of their livestock so they can reward those who are putting an effort into proper preparation. If I remember, you answered that question in a PM. Going a little further: I wean my calves, I convert them to high carbohydrate feed, I vaccinate them, I adapt them to direct human intervention, etc. I hope that results in less stress when they start the journey from my farm to the slaughter house. I hope my preparations provide them with a higher quality of life. I don't worry about the end of their life. Death is a tranquill state of non-existence. I want them to "enjoy" their state of existence.

Now my issue: The producers that have good protocols and prepare their products for the "feedlot" should get a reward in the form of higher prices. That does not happen here. My neighbor jerks his calves straight off the cow and ships them. He never puts a needle in a calf unless the vet comes to treat one that is sick. His calves sell for the same amount as mine do. So the average guy who does not prepare his calves in the proper manner has no incentive other than his personal values and standards.


Do you have the option to sell directly? We are still growing our herd and won't be doing much selling for awhile but already get asked several times a month whether and when we will have anything for sale. When we do, the price will reflect that they are well-cared for, natural, grass-fed (yeah, and we'll still probably be in the hole). Anyone hoping our plan is to sell beef cheaper than the walmart down the street can just keep drivin'.
Do you have restauranteurs who would like a source of high-quality beef that they can advertise in their menu is locally-sourced, hand-petted ;-) etc?
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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby Tim/South » Tue Oct 07, 2014 11:55 pm

We also wean and vaccinate. A major order buyer told me up front that he would not pay more for my calves.
He said that most people in our area did not know how to wean and the calves showed it. He said he had better success shipping milk fat calves weaned on a trailer than he did with underweight calves struggling to grow.
He said unless I had a load or half a load then he could not justify paying more. That is what his stockers wanted and was his job to buy for them.
He added that proper weaning, castration and vaccination was better for the calf, not arguing that point. Just that many selling a few head at a time did not have the knowledge, facilities or numbers to make it worth their time.
It was an interesting and educational conversation.
Having said that, there are some smaller order buyers that buy my calves and pay more. I am hoping they have had good results from my calves in the past. I want my calves to step off their trailer and begin making the stocker money.
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Re: What happens on a feedlot?

Postby inyati13 » Wed Oct 08, 2014 5:28 am

milkmaid wrote:Here's the thing Ron - go back and re-read the descriptions of high risk vs low risk calves.

Concept #1: When they're sold in groups of 15 at a sale barn where they'll be co-mingled with calves from ten other sources, the fact that they've had one set of vaccines prior to sale just makes them "high risk" as opposed to "ultra high risk."

Concept #2: Feedlots talk about the price spread between high risk and low risk cattle. When the market is low, there's a wide spread between the price paid for HR vs LR. They can lose HR calves, even 15% of them, and still make money on the group when the calves are cheap. Yes- the yard managers really do say they pay differently depending on the risk category of the cattle. Right now the market is high and there's not much of a spread. Buyers would prefer LR calves because it costs too much to lose the HR ones, but they buy anything available right now because they can't keep the yard full.

Concept #3: You may have discovered why some people prefer to retain ownership. If you're selling small groups of calves under 800 lbs at the sale, the only benefit you may ever see to preconditioning is your own sense of satisfaction. I've seen some organizations help compile small groups for producers so the guys who don't have enough cattle for a lot (usually 100-200 hd) can still retain ownership through the yard. There may be other options for you; as dun mentioned, with documentation that indicates they might have a lower morbidity after purchase, they can be worth more.


Thanks, mm. I will go back and check that. I appreciate your effort to inform on this subject. Ron
Been watching a heifer that is at day 273 post AI. She is my last fall heifer. I got FCA "First Calf Anxiety". :lol:
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