December 2021

New publication details benchmarks for Iowa feedlot cattle

Benchmarking is best used to track cattle and financial performance within a feedlot, but can also be used to monitor trends within the industry. Although industry-wide benchmarking programs exist, the values reported may not be reflective of Iowa climate and input costs.

Realizing this, Iowa Beef Center specialists collaborated on summarizing closeout data from more than 171,000 head of yearling steers and heifers enrolled in the Iowa Feedlot Monitoring program for the years of 2017 through 2020. These results are reported in a new publication, "Benchmarking the Performance of Iowa Feedlot Cattle."

Iowa State University extension beef specialist Beth Doran led the project.

"Averages are reported for each year and overall for the four-year time period for both steers and heifers," she said. "Also, performance and financial data were summarized for almost 99,000 head of cattle finished in four types of facilities - windbreaks, outdoor lots with shelter, open lot and confinement."

The report demonstrates that cattle characteristics, facility type, and extraneous factors, such as weather, commodity prices and marketing disruptions, greatly affect benchmarking values, Doran said.

"Those variabilities are why we encourage Iowa cattle producers to use benchmarking as a tool to monitor progress within their own operation over time,” Doran said. “It’s also important for them to be cautious in comparing their feedlot with other feedlots at a specified point in time."

Download your free copy of the publication from the ISU Extension Store. To learn more about the ISU Feedlot Monitoring Program, see information on the Iowa Beef Center website.

For more information, contact Doran at or 712-737-4230, or your ISU extension beef specialist.

The Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University was established in 1996 with the goal of supporting the growth and vitality of the state’s beef cattle industry. It comprises faculty and staff from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine, and works to develop and deliver the latest research-based information regarding the beef cattle industry. For more information about IBC, visit

new publication


Beth Doran, beef specialist, 712-737-4230,


Beth Doran

beef specialist
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