The majority of cattle feeders believe that preconditioning reduces sickness and death loss in the feedyard. And, increasingly, feedyards know or want to know the pre-arrival processing history of the cattle they feed.

Recently released data from the “Feedlot 99" study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) examines attitudes toward pre-arrival processing in U.S. Feedlots.

Among the feedlots surveyed, 86.7 percent of feedlots considered pre-arrival processing information somewhat or very important. However, only 32.4 percent indicated that pre-arrival processing information is available to them always or most of the time. 51.4 percent said the information is available sometimes and 16.2 percent indicated that the information is never available.

At the time of the survey, October through January 1999 more than 64 percent of respondents were aware of the vaccination history of the last group or shipment of cattle that arrived at their feedlot. About one-third were unaware of the vaccination history of their last group of received cattle, as well as whether the cattle had been dewormed, implanted or introduced to a feedbunk.

Among large feedlots, defined as 8,000-head or more, 70.2 percent indicated they consider pre-arrival processing information as very important compared with 54.6 percent among feedyards with 1,000 to 7,999-head capacity. Large feedlots also were more likely to provide information regarding animal health, performance and carcass quality back to their customers or suppliers. Just over 90 percent of large feedyards provided this information at least some of the time, compared with half of smaller operations.