The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has released the third descriptive report from its Feedlot 2011 study: Part III: Trends in Health and Management Practices on U.S. Feedlots , 1994-2011. The report was produced by APHIS’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS).

The NAHMS Feedlot 2011 study took an in-depth look at large U.S. feedlots (1,000 or more head capacity) in 12 states and small feedlots (fewer than 1,000 head capacity) in 13 states. Large feedlots accounted for 82.1 percent of the January 1, 2011, inventory in all U.S. feedlots but only 2.8 percent of all feedlots.  The 12 participating states accounted for over 95 percent of the inventory in large feedlots.   Small feedlots accounted for 16.0 percent of the January 1, 2011, inventory in all U.S. feedlots but 92.9 percent of all feedlots. The 13 States accounted for 85.4 percent of U.S. farms with fewer than 500 cattle on feed and 90.5 percent of the inventory on farms with fewer than 500 cattle on feed (NASS, 2007 Census of Agriculture).

Here are a few highlights from the Feedlot 2011 Part III report:

The number of feedlots with a capacity of 32,000 head or more increased by over

50 percent from 1996 to 2011. During the same time frame, the total number of feedlots decreased by over 30 percent. Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Washington reported large increases in inventory on feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head from 1995 and 2011.

An increase in the overall percentage of cattle on feed owned by the feedlot continued from 1999 to 2011. Nearly 60 percent of cattle on feed were owned by the feedlot in 2011, compared with about 25 percent of cattle in 1994.

In 2011, almost 9 percent of cattle mortalities on feedlots were composted and over 10 percent of feedlots used composting as a disposal method.

Formal training programs, including written guidelines, were implemented on a higher percentage of feedlots in 2011 than in 1999. More feedlots in 2011 than in 1999 provided formal training in quality assurance, residue avoidance, animal handling procedures, employee safety, manure management, dust control, and other environmental issues.

Find more on the NAHMS studies at the program’s website.  

For additional information on this topic, contact Lyndsay Cole at (970) 494-7410 or e-mail: lyndsay.m.cole@aphis.usda.gov.