NCCC208: Nutrition and Management of Feedlot Cattle to Optimize Performance, Carcass Value and Environmental Compatibility (NCT192)
- October 01, 2008 to September 30, 2013
- Administrative Advisor(s):
- NIFA Reps:
Statement of Issue(s) and Justification:The NCCC-206 committee was formed to address nutrition and management issues related to performance, carcass value and environmental sustainability. This committee, representing most of the cattle feeding states in the U.S., will focus on research and education efforts in support of the cattle feeding industry in the North Central Region and beyond.
Annually, over 27 million steers and heifers are finished in the U.S.; this number represents the majority source of beef consumed in the U.S. The U.S. feedlot industry is built around producing grain fed (almost entirely corn-fed) beef for domestic and foreign customers. Approximately 1,500 kg of corn are needed to finish a 340 kg steer. Yet, increasing amounts of corn are now being used in an effort to reduce dependence on foreign fossil fuels through the production of ethanol. In this environment, corn may become an alternative feed and not the main feed stock for finishing beef cattle. In addition, recent research evidence indicates that the feeding and management environment the feeder calf is exposed to prior to entering the feedlot dictate growth and carcass characteristics of the finished animal. In this regard, exposure of cattle to potential food borne pathogens prior to and after entering the feedlot are reflected on pathogen loads found on the carcass.
Concurrently, demand for beef, which had been stagnant through 1998, increased for the first time in 18 years in 1999. Although demand has fluctuated somewhat since 1999, the demand for beef remains strong today. A major component of the increased demand has been increased consumer expenditures. Thus, as economic conditions improved, consumers spent more money on beef. Therefore, beef demand is highly dependent on price and price relative to disposable consumer income. If the beef industry is to remain sustainable in the future, particularly if economic recessions occur, efforts to maintain demand via efficient production of a safe, wholesome product are necessary.
Large feedlot capacities (over 2 million head) concentrate in the states of Texas, Nebraska and Kansas while the states of Colorado, Iowa, California, South Dakota, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Minnesota have total capacities ranging from 300,000 to 1.5 million head. The majority of feedlots in states with large capacities hold several thousand head on dirt surface lots with mounds and run-off capture basins. Due primarily to climate and precipitation, feedlots in the northernmost states, feedlots designs vary but include and range from dirt surface lots, surfaced (e.g. concrete or pavement) lots, or confinement buildings. This variation in design results in variable environmental impact. However, little is known about the differences among these designs, and possible advantages and disadvantages with regards to environmental sustainability.
States participating in the NCCC-206 project represent the top 10 states for feedlot capacity, and surrounding states with capacities up to 100,000 cattle on feed. Representatives to NCCC-206 are leaders in feedlot nutrition and management research and routinely interact with the largest feedlot consulting firms, which together represent over 50% of the cattle on feed in the U.S., feed manufacturing and processing companies, managers of ethanol companies, and directly with feedlot owners and managers in their areas of influence. This cadre of professionals is well known and respected by their clientele base, and their peers. They represent the focal efforts of their land-grant universities on feedlot nutrition and management.
The NCCC-206 committee is the only committee equipped with a group of scientists already well-known in the industry, and supporting infrastructure to focus research programs in feedlot cattle nutrition and management issues facing the U.S. cattle feeding industry. This committee will employ a three-tier approach (environmental stewardship, beef quality and safety, and economic sustainability) in developing nutritional and management strategies. This focus clearly distinguishes the research efforts of this group from other NC or NCR committees in which scientists are focused on dairy production, utilization of animal manure and organic residues, grazing systems, cow-calf management, and molecular mechanisms regulating growth of muscle and adipose tissue. The research goals of this committee are supportive of all five research goals of CSREES.
Because of price pressure generated by the use of corn for ethanol production, a trend for relocating feedlots to areas where corn is grown (and prices are typically lower) has already begun. This may create an opportunity to site and manage feedlots in a manner more consistent with environmental protection than previously accomplished. Thus, the need exists to understand the impact of feedlot design on the environment and animal production. Also, as environmental protection regulations adapt to include phosphorus loading limits, managing phosphorus in a manner consistent with a new regulatory climate will become an issue, particularly because many ethanol co-products are high in phosphorus. These co-products are also high in sulfur. Dietary sulfur can be converted to hydrogen sulfide by ruminal bacteria and is released in the environment, and may contribute to atmospheric sulfur and greenhouse gases. Little is known about managing hydrogen sulfide production in the rumen. This has led to situations where feeding high-sulfur-containing co-products have caused a condition similar to thiamine-deficiency-caused polioencephalomalacia. Therefore, increased knowledge of reactions in the rumen leading to production of hydrogen sulfide, and methodology by which to abate it must be developed if the feedlot industry will continue to rely on co-products of corn milling for ethanol production.
As the areas of influence of the NCCC-206 committee encompass much of the ethanol processing regions of the country, this committee is poised to generate informational resources, grounded in the scientific method, for a smooth transition as the feedlot industry restructures to transition into an era which will likely be less dependent on corn and more dependent on corn coproducts. Areas for this effort will focus on by environmental impact assessment research.
- To enhance the utilization of alternative feedstuffs including those which are available as a result of increased biofuel production while reducing reliance on cereal grains. Collaborating states include (IA, IN, KS, MI, MN, NE, ND, OH, OK, SD, TX, UT, WI)
- To enhance quality and safety of beef through emerging pre-harvest technologies and management strategies. Collaborating states include (CO, IN, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, OK, TX, UT, WI)
- To enhance the environmental sustainability of the feedlot industry through N, P, K, and S management by improving nutrient utilization and excreted nutrient conservation. Collaborating states include (CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, NE, ND, OK, SD, TX, UT, WI)
- To enhance the health and production efficiency of feedlot cattle through management strategies and technologies which enhance cattle comfort and well being. Collaborating states include (IN, MI, MN, NE, ND, WI)
Procedures and ActivitiesThe NCCC206 committee is poised to address research issues arising from increased availability of alternative feedstuffs, concentrated nutrient output and application of pre-harvest nutrition and management strategies on the health of feedlot cattle and food safety of beef consumers. Committee members represent Agricultural Experiment Stations known across the nation for studying utilization of alternative feedstuffs long before grains and oilseeds were used for biofuel production (NCR, 1984). Agricultural Experiment Stations represented by NCCC206 membership have the infrastructure and resources available to represent the continuum between cattle procurement, pre-feedlot entry feeding and management, feedlot nutrition and management, and access to Experiment Station-based or commercial cattle harvest facilities. The committee will address its objectives on a three-way collaborative approach: members focused on pre-feedlot nutrition by management interactions (pre-feedlot use of alternative feedstuffs and impacts of pre-harvest nutrition and management on cattle health and beef quality and safety), members focused on feedlot nutrition and management (use of alternative feeds, impacts of nutrition and management strategies on cattle health, nutrient output or food safety), and members focused on post-harvest evaluation of nutrition and management interventions.
Studies designed to evaluate alternative feedstuffs, pre-harvest beef quality and safety interventions, environmental impact of nutrient management strategies, and health and well-being of feedlot cattle will be standardized according to basic protocols that may, depending on study objectives, include the following: steers or heifers will be purchased according to specifications of the protocol (sex, frame size, maturity, etc.). Cattle will be vaccinated against respiratory and stress-related diseases, dewormed and ear-tagged. Implant or additive feeding programs will be included according to protocols for specific studies. Cattle will be assigned randomly to dietary and, where appropriate, interactive treatments. Weights will be collected every 28 d before feeding in the morning, unless a specific requirement for shrunk weights is needed because of the nature of diets. Dry matter intakes will be measured from feed offered and refused by pens. Standard measurements of carcass characteristics such as dressing percentage, fat depth, ribeye area, marbling score, proportion of kidney, pelvic and heart fat, and USDA quality and yield grade will be routinely collected. In some cases additional carcass and beef quality and sensory characteristics may also be collected, depending on the specific protocol of each study.
Regularly, data from feedlot studies will be pooled and summarized by standardized statistical procedures. Mixed models will be applied to analyze for effects of weight, breed type, grain source and concentration, protein source and concentration, and type and amount of alternative feedstuffs on performance, carcass characteristics and beef quality and safety attributes of feedlot cattle. Based on these analyses, the committee will develop feeding standards for incorporating alternative feedstuffs derived from processing of grains and oilseeds for biofuel production, with particular attention to interactions between common feeding and management strategies such as use of implants and ionophores.
The cadre of professionals represented by NCCC206 has a significant extension appointment. They regularly conduct cooperative extension programs to disseminate results of research as components of their yearly programs (e.g., cattle feeder days, nutrition roundtables, nutrition conferences, etc.). As leaders in their fields they are often asked to represent their universities at regional, national and international conferences (e.g., American Society of Animal Science Symposia, Plains Nutrition Council Spring Conference, NCBA Convention, International Livestock Congress, Distillers Association Conventions, Southwest Nutrition Conference, etc.).
Because of the specificity of requirements to conduct studies to determine effects of disease preventative measures, and potential effects of handling infective agents, only a few of the members of NCCC206 have the resources and infrastructure to conduct these studies. However, collaborative studies to determine effects of elevated concentrations of sulfur on feedlot health and performance can and will be conducted by several NCCC206 members.
NCCC206 will convene annually in the summer at locations that will permit focusing on annual review and interpretive summarization of results of research efforts by each committee member and their home institution. Each year, during the Midwest Animal Science Meetings, the committee will hold an informal meeting to plan the summer meeting and to call for written research reports to be submitted before the annual meeting for compilation. During the annual committee meeting, administrative reporting will occur to highlight budgetary issues and ensuing research funding direction. In addition, during the meeting, each Experiment Station represented by committee members will present results of research and discuss outcomes and impacts. By the fall of the year, summary of research reports will be uploaded to the NCCC206 website maintained by the kind contributions of Dr. Dan Loy of Iowa State University. Collaborative efforts resulting from these meetings will be discussed and pursued according to pressing issues.
Expected Outcomes and Impacts:
- Enhanced cooperation and collaboration between Experiment Station members of NCCC206 both within and across Stations.
- Yearly collaborative summarization and interpretation of reports of progress by NCCC206 members.
- Standardization of research protocols to evaluate alternative feeds, feedlot nutrient balance, pre-harvest food safety management interventions and disease preventative measures in the pre-feedlot and receiving periods.
- Studies resulting from these collaborations will be pooled across participating experiment stations and years to generate robust datasets for meta-analyses designed to provide conclusive implications and further research direction.
- Development of feeding standards for current and new generation alternative feeds derived from processing of oilseeds and grains into biofuels as components of growing and finishing cattle diets.
- Outcome/Impact 6: Development of nutrient management standards that consider environmental protection and U.S. beef feedlot sector sustainability. Outcome/Impact 7: Evaluation of salient technologies and interventions designed: to manage nutrient output by feedlots, to reduce pre-shipment and receiving disease, and to improve pre-harvest food safety practices. Outcome/Impact 8: Development of symposiums at relevant scientific meetings (e.g. Midwest American Society of Animal Science) which detail the findings of the studies conducted by the members of the committee and disseminate the knowledge developed by the collective work being conducted by the committee. Outcome/Impact 9: Strategic utilization by the U.S. beef feedlot sector of alternative feedstuffs derived from biofuel processing of oilseeds and grains. Outcome/Impact 10: Reduced reliance on grain feeding (and more reliant on grain and oilseed coproducts) by the U.S. beef feedlot sector. Outcome/Impact 11: Enhanced visibility of participating Experiment Stations. Outcome/Impact 12: A U.S. beef feedlot sector that can offer environmental assurance and be economically sustainable. Outcome/Impact 13: Healthier feedlot cattle. Outcome/Impact 14: Feedlot cattle that contribute small to negligible pathogen loads pre-harvest.
Project Participation:Include a completed Appendix E form
Publications by NCCC206 members consist of journal articles in scientific journals and Beef Research Reports generated by participating institutions. Committee members generate more than 75 of these publications of original research annually. Most of these publications are also available on-line. Thesis publications represent the leading sources of information for cattle feeders and allied industry, including feedlot consultants and feed dealers. Most NCCC206 members conduct a series of annual meetings during the year to highlight findings of research and expose cattle producers to the latest information derived from their research and extension efforts. Results and implications of this coordinated research committee will be highlighted through these events. The combined audience of these programs is approximately 5,000 feedlots, and nearly100% of the feedlot consultants and feed dealers involved in the feedlot industry in the U.S. The discoveries made by the coordinated efforts of members of this committee conservatively impact over 80% of the feedlot operations in the country. Additionally, results of this research will be made available through the NCCC206 website. Other efforts to communicate results of this research are concurrent with research reporting at Regional and National American Society of Animal Science meetings, meetings of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, the American Meat Institute, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, the Plains Nutrition Conference in San Antonio, TX (a venue reaching almost 80% of the feedlot consultants in the country/world). The NCCC-206 committee has and will continue to coordinate and sponsor meetings and symposia which highlight discoveries under the stated objectives of the committee.
Literature Cited:NCR 1984. The nutritional value of grain alchohol fermentation by-products for feedlot cattle. NCR Pub. No. 297. June.
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