Cattle feeders strongly believe in the effectiveness of pre-arrival management practices such as weaning vaccines, parasite control and weaning four weeks prior to shipment, but they often do not have access to management history on cattle they feed. That’s one example of opportunities for improvements in information sharing and education revealed in a new feedlot report from the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) a division of APHIS Veterinary Services.
Part I of the report, based on 2011 surveys of U.S. feedyards, focuses on feedlots with greater than 1,000 head capacity and Part II on those with fewer than 1,000 head.
NAHMS also released several info sheets on specific topics drawn from the full reports.
- Awareness of the Beef Quality Assurance Program among operators of small feedlots
- Injection practices in U.S. feedlots
- Types and costs of respiratory disease treatment in U.S. feedlots
- Vaccine usage in U.S. feedlots
The authors note that information flow between cattle feeders and their suppliers can foster improvement in health and management practices across the production chain. However, the study shows that flow of information often is lacking.
Around 80 percent of feedlots indicated pre-arrival practices such as weaning vaccinations are very effective to extremely effective, and operators on 69 percent of feedlots believed that pre-arrival processing information was very important. Only 34.7 percent of feedlots always had access to pre-arrival processing information, however, and 58.2 percent sometimes had access to the information. When pre-arrival processing information was available, 51 percent of feedlots always used the information to determine management or processing practices. Another 35.7 percent sometimes made use of the information
As for information flowing the other direction, only 25 percent of feedlots always or most of the time provided cattle suppliers with information about the cattle placed.
A large majority, generally between 80 and 90 percent of all feedylots report pre-arrival practices were performed on some or all the steers and heifers they received weighing less than 700 pounds. Practices listed included weaned for four weeks, introduction to feed bunk, respiratory vaccinations given to calves at least two weeks prior to weaning, respiratory vaccinations given to calves at weaning, calves castrated and dehorned at least four weeks prior to shipping, calves treated for external or internal parasites prior to shipping.