USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System recently released four information sheets from its Feedlot 2011 study. Feedlot 2011 took a broad look at animal health and management practices on feedlots throughout the major cattle-feeding region of the United States, with much of the data broken out by feedyard-size group. Large feedlots accounted for 82.1 percent of the Jan. 1, 2011, inventory of feedlot cattle in all U.S. feedlots but only 2.8 percent of all feedlots. The 12 participating states accounted for over 95 percent of the inventory of cattle in large feedlots. Small feedlots accounted for 16 percent of the inventory on all U.S. feedlots and 92.9 percent of all U.S. farms with cattle on feed.

One of the information sheets addresses the importance of pre-arrival management practices to operators of U.S. feedlots. Based on survey results, operators on 69.3 percent of all feedlots believed that pre-arrival processing information was very important, while an additional 23.8 percent rate the information as somewhat important. Asked about specific pre-arrival management practices, a large majority of cattle feeders rated these practices as extremely or very effective:

• Calves castrated/dehorned four weeks prior to shipping — 91.6 percent

• Respiratory vaccinations given two weeks prior to weaning — 85.4 percent

• Introduction to feed bunk — 81.2 percent

• Respiratory vaccinations given at weaning — 80.4 percent

• Calves weaned four weeks prior to shipping — 79.1 percent

• Calves treated for parasites prior to shipping — 71 percent.