In February and March, the Iowa Beef Center will be offering several workshops around the state that focus on aiding in decisions on expanding or new feedlot facilities. The workshops and materials are partially funded by a North Central Risk Management Education Center grant. The workshops will include discussions on feedlot facility types and also take into account the financial, production, and environmental risk management aspects of choosing a facility type. The tradeoffs between these management considerations will be analyzed.

The newly revised publication, “Beef Feedlot Systems Manual” will be highlighted during the workshops and available to workshop participants. The manual covers feedlot facility types and related research-based performance assumptions, cattle comfort, environmental considerations, and manure nutrients. The initial investment cost of the facilities and operating costs of each type of facility are calculated and compared to the value of any performance gains or increases in manure nutrient value.

Confinement operations have higher investment costs as compared to open feedlot systems but have advantages in performance and manure nutrient value. Open lots with shelter have similar performance to confinements. Some types of facilities like bedded confinements have higher operating costs including bedding and labor.

Managing potential run off from open lots is a regulatory and management issue and confinement facilities can aid in managing runoff concerns. On top of the differences between facility types, individual operations have unique financial characteristics which can influence the amount of  investment.

A decision tool also will be introduced during the workshops that will let individuals enter their own costs, performance assumptions, and manure values, and compare cost of gain and income between types of operations.

There is not one facility type that is the perfect fit for all situations. Producers have choices and need to analyze their own operation as well as differences between the facility types. The materials developed for the workshops and participation in the workshops are targeted to help individuals making those decisions.