February 13, 2013
Indoor Feedlots Help Keep Cattle Above Their LTC for Improved Rate of Gain and Profit Potential
We all know cattle need food water fresh air and sunshine – especially in the winter. A recent article by Rory Lewandowski OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources educator highlights the biology behind the truth nearly every feedlot operator knows – cattle fed indoors and kept dryer produce far more profit potential than cattle subjected to winter stress in cold wet outdoor lots.
According to Lewandowski all animals have a thermoneutral zone; a temperature range in which the animal is most comfortable and not under any stress. This is considered optimum for body maintenance as well as health and animal performance. At this temperature feed efficiency is optimum. "When livestock experience cold stress below the lower boundary of that zone they reach lower critical temperature (LCT) and the animal’s metabolism must increase in order for it to keep warm" Lewandowski said. This means that their feed efficiency is reduced. LCT for beef cattle is 59 degrees during the summer or when wet 45 degrees in the fall 32 degrees in the winter and 18 degrees during the heavy winter. Here’s one reason more and more operators are looking at feeding cattle indoors . . . wet hair has no insulating value! According to Lewandowski "With a wet hair coat regardless of how heavy it is the lower critical temperature (LCT) increases to 59 degrees . . . because hair coats lose their insulation ability when wet." "That means the animal must increase its energy intake to maintain body temperature and basic body maintenance functions Lewandowski said. Generally energy intake must increase by 1 percent for each degree of cold below the LCT."
Now Do the Math
Let’s say it’s 35 degrees and raining. Wet cattle fed outdoors are 24 degrees below their LTC (59-35=24). That means they must intake 24% more energy than they would if they were under roof and dry!
Click here for more about how monoslope beef barns work to keep cattle above LTC in winter.
READ entire article here