Post-storm Strategies for Feedlot Cattle Producers

Plan ahead for when mud becomes an issue at the cattle farm

May 24, 2024, 9:00 am | Sherry Hoyer, Beth Doran

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – Mother Nature has created a new environment for northwest Iowa feedlot producers. Torrential rains have turned once-dry feedlots to mud, and accompanying hail may have bruised cattle.

Beth Doran, beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said it's important to have a strategy and plan in place to deal with the issues facing producers. Beef cattle in muddy conditions.

“Wet, muddy conditions reduce weight gain and can compromise cattle health, so the first thing to tackle is mud,” she said. “While not perfect or easy, there are some emergency strategies for dealing with mud.”

Here are some suggestions

  • Where possible, place whole round bales of cornstalks, straw or hay on areas with less mud. The cattle will tear up the bales and lay on the bedding.  
  • If you cannot access dirt surfaces of the feedlot, scrape the bunk apron and concrete-surfaced areas to provide a dry, solid surface for cattle to lay down. Scrape the apron regularly to keep it dry and clean.
  • On wide aprons over 20 feet, place bedding in areas beyond the 20 feet behind the bunk.  Continue to add bedding to form a bed pack and leave the bedding in place until feedlot conditions improve.

“Because hail can cause physical injury to cattle, be aware that marketing may need to be delayed if cattle were hailed upon,” Doran said. “The extent of bruising depends on the size of the hail and how soon the cattle are marketed after experiencing hail.”

Data from a Texas feedyard that experienced hail ranging from 1¾ to 3¾ inches in diameter indicates cattle sold within 15 days of being hailed upon had significant carcass bruising. However, by day 49 the bruising had returned to normal baseline levels.

For more information on dealing with post-storm issues, contact Doran at 712-737-4230 or email doranb@iastate.edu

Shareable photo: 1. Beef cattle in muddy conditions.

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