Bedding down top practices in feedlots

Bedding down good practices in feedlots


Beef
Iranda Beef general manager Tom Green at the SmartBeef conference in Dalby, where he spoke about using straw as bedding in pens.

Iranda Beef general manager Tom Green at the SmartBeef conference in Dalby, where he spoke about using straw as bedding in pens.

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For South Australia's Iranda Beef, implementing bedding in feedlot pens was less of a choice than a necessity.

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For South Australia's Iranda Beef, implementing bedding in feedlot pens was less of a choice than a necessity.

In 2017 Thomas Foods International's Tintinara feedlot began feeding cattle for longer periods so they trialled straw bedding for their longer fed cattle.

But for the last two years the whole feedlot has used straw bedding during the winter period.

Iranda Beef general manager Tom Green said the feedlot is currently at capacity with 17,000 head on feed and all of them were on bedding from mid-May to mid-September.

"As we started feeding cattle for longer periods, we found that the pen surface wasn't conducive to feeding heavier cattle for longer so we had to find a solution," he said.

"We couldn't feed those cattle without some form of bedding or protection for those cattle.

"It's made a huge difference to performance, animal welfare benefits and animal health.

"It's an individual problem and an individual solution for every feedlot. Straw works for us but with high commodity fibre prices in the north, your cost benefit isn't as extensive as what we've seen in the south."

Mr Green spoke about the benefits of bedding at the Australian Lot Feeders' Association's SmartBeef conference in Dalby, joined by University of New England senior lecturer in meat science Peter McGilchrist.

Dr McGilchrist shared findings from UNE research which showed woodchip bedding has substantial performance and animal welfare benefits for feedlot operations.

Research conducted at UNE's Tullimba feedlot saw implanted steers fed a tempered barley diet for 109 days on feed, with simulated rainfall.

Cattle were divided into three different groups- those with no bedding, those with 15cm woodchip bedding and those with 30cm woodchip bedding.

Researchers found that the cattle with 15cm woodchip bedding had a 2.8 per cent increase in hot standard carcase weight and received a 6c/kg grid premium.

For Iranda Beef, it cost $22.64 per head to bed the cattle, with a straw cost of $120 per tonne. Cattle on feed for 125 days saw an average 0.1kg/day increase in weight gain and a carcase value increase of about $42.24.

It's made a huge difference to performance, animal welfare benefits and animal health. - Tom Green

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