To most of you this should be titled “Feedlot or Feed yard,” but I think these are misused terms. Cattle are only sent to feed yards for about the last 2-5 months before harvested. I have always wondered why we call them “feed yards” when really all they do is put the final pounds, fat and muscle onto cattle. Prior to finishing yards cattle spend their time on grass pasture and starter feed rations.
So why do we use finishing/feed yards? Our country’s geography doesn’t allow enough grass for cattle to be grass finished. Due to the fact that we do not have high quality grass during most of the year, cattle wouldn’t receive a quality enough diet to reach a market weight. Grain finishing cattle also requires fewer resources. Cattle in feed yards are finished with a grain based diet. Bringing cattle into feed yards increases efficiency and safety. Feed yards are closely monitored to make sure cattle are being well taken care of and are being fed a balanced diet.
Finishing yards are designed for cattle to be comfortable and gain weight. When I hear the word efficient I often think of finishing yards. Some finishing yards have over 20,000 head of cattle and every single one of the animals is carefully examined and fed each day. When cattle are “processed” (vaccinated, eat tagged and exanimated) they are also documented. Documentation is extremely important, this allows cattlemen to monitor each head and know their personal backgrounds. Cattle are then assigned to a pen where they will usually stay until they leave the yard for harvest. Everyone who works in finishing yards have been trained in animal welfare, health programs, safety and other areas pertaining to the feed yard. Cattle are fed a balanced diet of grains and forages and have constant access to water. Not only do finishing yards make animal welfare a priority, they also focus on environmental stewardship. Loads of manure is cleaned out of pens regularly and sold to farmers to use as fertilizer. Run off water is contained in small ponds that can be used to irrigate crops or is treated for other purposes.
I attached an awesome blog site Feedyard Foodie. This site is filled with everything you might want to know about feedlot operations. https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/tag/feedlot/
Beef & Blessings,