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Graded levels of woodchip during wet feedlot conditions

Did you know that woodchip bedding can increase the value of grainfed carcases by 9.3 kg?

Project start date: 01 April 2018
Project end date: 30 May 2019
Publication date: 11 October 2019
Project status: In progress
Livestock species: Grainfed cattle
Relevant regions: National
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This project simulated wet winter conditions to determine the production and management costs and benefits of providing woodchip bedding to feedlot cattle during wet weather conditions. Zero, 15 and 30cm of woodchip was compared over a 109-day feeding period in short-fed export steers.

Average daily gain, carcase weight and cattle comfort was optimised at 15cm of woodchip. The woodchips lowered the incidence of days and increased carcase value by 9.3kg per head.


This project researched the effects of woodchip bedding on feedlot cattle performance, animal health and welfare, dag score, pre-slaughter washing time, labour and carcase characteristics.

Key findings

  • Provision of woodchip bedding at 54 kg/m2 (15 cm deep) improved cattle comfort, average daily gain and increased hot standard carcase weight by an additional 9.3kg per animal ($74 increase in revenue).
  • The integrity of woodchip was maintained under wet conditions until 70 days, indicating re-application may be warranted for cattle that are in feedlots for longer periods of time.
  • The increase in carcase value may be offset by the cost of woodchips and labour. Lot feeders should utilise site-specific cost analysis to determine feasibility.

Benefits to industry

Woodchip improves comfort of feedlot cattle in wet winter conditions and is a positive, proactive management strategy. It can provide economic advantages to lot feeders if it is purchased at an appropriate price.

MLA action

  • MLA has extended information to producers by articles in the MLA Quarterly Feed e-newsletter.
  • A factsheet has been prepared for delivery to National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme (NFAS) accredited feedlots by the Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA)-MLA Technical Services officer.
  • A technical presentation was delivered to lot feeders at ALFA Smart Beef, 2019.

Future research

No further research on woodchip bedding is planned. Current research is focusing on the effects of shelter on feedlot cattle performance, health and welfare.

Related resources

MLA publications

MLA news articles

More information

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Primary researcher: University of New England