Lotfeeding and intensive finishing

Lot feeding and intensive finishing are intensive forms of animal production where groups of animals are placed in yards or enclosures of a minimum size consistent with animal health and comfort. These animals are fed high quality feed rations to achieve optimal rates of liveweight gain.

Feedlot design

MLA has produced a feedlot design manual Beef cattle feedlots: design and construction. The manual takes the feedlotter and consultants through the stages of selecting a suitable site, designing the feedlot and its facilities, their construction and the overall management of the project.

Click here to view the Feedlot Design Manual.

Benefits of lot feeding

The main benefits of lot feeding are greater control and flexibility in the production and marketing of livestock.

Specific benefits include the:

  • Ability to finish animals when pasture feed is deficient in quality and/or quantity.
  • Ability to meet a wider range of markets.
  • Turnoff of a more even 'line'.
  • Reduction of stocking pressure on-farm during dry conditions without having to sell animals in poor condition.
  • Option to increase breeder numbers on-farm in proportion to the number of turnoff animals placed in a feedlot.

Major factors influencing the profitability of lot feeding are:

  • Price and availability of feed.
  • Value of store animal.
  • Price of finished animal.
  • Costs of labour and establishment.
  • Need for and costs of obtaining approval and accreditation.

Preparing feeder livestock

Feeder livestock must be produced with the feedlot's or intensive finishers goals and strategies in mind. Producers considering supplying to feedlots or intensive finishing systems can significantly improve the performance of their livestock when on feed by following any necessary preparation requirements of the feedlot they wish to supply.

Examples of pre-feedlot program activities include yard weaning and pre-feedlot vaccination (such as vaccinating against respiratory diseases).

Pre-feedlot programs vary between feedlots so it is important that producers check with the intended feedlot to understand their pre-feedlot program requirements.

Marketing

Livestock finished in feedlots or through intensive finishing systems are generally more consistent and considered a premium product.

The main markets for Australian grainfed beef are Japan, Korea, the United States and the domestic market. Grainfed lamb is sold into both the domestic and export markets, with heavier carcases destined for premium markets such as the European Union and United States.

An established grain finishing or lot feeding sector does not currently exist within the goatmeat industry.

Backgrounding

Backgrounding is the assembling of animals prior to entry into the feedlot. This allows mixing and socialisation of animals that will occupy a pen, prior to entry to the feedlot.

Induction

When livestock arrive at a feedlot or intensive finishing system, management practices are undertaken to ensure the health and welfare of the new arrivals and the livestock already on feed.

Animal health

Feedlots and intensive finishing systems require good management to ensure the prevention of disease and the maintenance of good animal health and welfare. Of particular importance are nutritional diseases, infectious diseases and parasitic diseases.

Nutrition

Lotfed or intensively finished animals require a balanced ration that supplies all their nutritional requirements if they are to realise their full growth potential.

Odour and waste management

With large numbers of animals concentrated in a small area, odour and waste are inevitable by products of feedlot and intensive finishing systems. How these are managed has important consequences for animal health and welfare, occupational health and safety (OHS) and the environment.

Energy and water use

Feedlots and intensive finishing systems can be significant users of energy and water and it is important that these be managed efficiently to ensure environmental and economic sustainability.

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