Health has always been of critical importance in the cattle business, but the cost of poor health has been accentuated as prices have moved up.
Even though more dollars are at risk, health is by no means improving, as noted in a recent issue of the Professional Cattle Consultant (PCC) newsletter: Feedlot death loss was higher the first four months of 2013 than 2012, and well above the average rate of 1.6% as reported in USDA’s recent NAHMS survey.
With increased death loss comes the residual cost of more treatments and reduced performance (feedlot and carcass) for the surviving cattle.
Starting in 1999, Certified Angus Beef LLC began studying the impact of cattle health on beef quality grade and the resulting dining experience. Working with researchers and information from the Iowa Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity (TCSCF), data analysis on nearly 7,000 cattle fed in 2002-2003 showed $170/head in lost revenue when cattle had to be treated more than onece.
More recently, data on 10 times that number of cattle from 14 states fed in TCSCF feedlots from 2000 to 2012 was analyzed. The bottom line now showed a startling economic impact of $365/head in lost revenue when cattle must be treated two or more times. Death loss was the key cost, but reduced quality grade by 10% and reduced feedlot gain by .4 lb./day contributed to the number.