Effects of Bedding on Feedlot Performance, Carcass Quality, and Net Return of Steers Fed During the Winter In North Dakota
NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center
Livestock producers need to manage animals for optimum performance and net return. Feeding cattle in North Dakota poses some environmental challenges with wind and cold. Wind fence and shelterbelt protection have been proven to be effective in enhancing performance of feedlot cattle in North Dakota (Anderson and Bird, 1993). Bedding feedlot cattle is not consistently practiced, nor is there any comparative data to support its use for enhancing animal performance or capturing more nitrogen in manure. Ammonia volatilization from animal manure is considered a major pollution source in the environment. Bedding can make animals more comfortable, enhanced performance and net return, as well as improve the carbon –nitrogen ratio in manure to facilitate effective composting and greater nitrogen retention.
In the Alberta feedlot industry, bedding is considered to be a critical management tool for making feedlot cattle comfortable in commercial yards. Many ND farmer-feeders use straw for their calves and spread the manure back on cropland as part of their fertility program. Commercial yards in North Dakota use minimal or no bedding. This paper presents data on the effects of bedding for finishing steers during the past two winters in North Dakota.