5/11/2016 12:00:00 AM
Planning Ahead for Summer Feedlot Maintenance
S.D. - Quality of the feeding environment can greatly impact the performance
and cost-of-gain in a cattle backgrounding or finishing operation.
might possess the greatest genetics for growth and carcass merit and be fed the
most finely tuned ration nutritionists can formulate, but if the feeding
environment is too stressful, those animals will simply not perform as well as
expected," said Warren Rusche, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist.
"For example, as little as 4 to 8 inches of mud can reduce performance and
feed efficiency by about 13 percent."
maximize control over environmental factors, Rusche said many cattle producers
are considering confinement systems such as monoslopes and hoop buildings -
however, even with these structures he reminds producers that cattle still
spend some time in the yard.
reality is, the majority of cattle will spend at least some time in an outside
yard. So, paying extra attention to yard maintenance is an opportunity to
improve the bottomline of cattle feeders," he said.
many cattle feeders in South Dakota, especially backgrounders, Rusche said the
summer months are a great time to address and correct any problems that might
be present in open lots.
is usually some time during the summer when the pens are drier and empty,
providing the opportunity to do some prep work before fall," Rusche said.
prioritizing which issue to fix first, Rusche said solving drainage problems
needs to be the first order of business. "The key principle is to keep
upstream water from flowing into the feedyard," he said. "Water that
never makes it into the pen cannot cause any additional mud problems."
the upstream water flow and see if any of the diversion structures need some
mounds in an open yard also need to be maintained to keep them working as
designed. Cattle should have 30 to 50 square feet of mound space per head with
a 4:1 to 5:1 slope on the sides.
should be able to walk from the concrete apron to the mound without having to
walk through any potholes or muddy areas," Rusche said.
soil should be used to build backup mounds or fill in low spots rather than
using manure scraped from the pen.
constructing or expanding concrete aprons, Rusche said that at a minimum they
need to be wide enough so cattle can pass behind their pen mates while they are
eating. "Wider aprons mean that more of the manure ends up on the concrete
rather than on the pen surface. Almost no one regrets pouring concrete aprons
that are too wide."
such as box scrapers do an excellent job of creating a smooth surface that
helps prevent water from standing in depressions like hoof prints, etc.
"It is important not to completely scrape all the way to the soil.
"Leaving a thin layer about half an inch of manure helps form an
impermeable soil/manure interface that minimizes the amount of water leaching
into the groundwater," Rusche said.