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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Feedlot Nutrient Management Impacts Efficiency and Environmental Quality

Authors
item Greene, L - TAES
item Cole, Noel

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 9, 2003
Publication Date: August 1, 2003
Citation: Greene, L.W., Cole, N.A. Feedlot Nutrient Management Impacts Efficiency And Environmental Quality. ADM Alliance Nutrition, Inc. 2003. Abstract. P. 2-3.

Technical Abstract: Changes in beef cattle feedlots over the last several decades have directly increased production efficiency and indirectly have decreased environmental hazards from manure production. Some of the changes include cattle genetics, feed processing, feed bunk management, diet composition, and implementation of technologies such as anabolic growth enhancers and feed additives such as ionophores. Today cattle are larger framed, leaner and generally more efficient than their earlier counterpart. Most grains fed to feedyard cattle are processed to improve digestibility and nutrient utilization. Also, much less roughage is fed in feedyard diets compared to years past. Improvements in grain processing and decrease in roughage fed lead to an increase in diet digestibility. As digestibility of nutrients increase, manure production is decreased. Implementation of anabolic growth implants and ionophores during the late 1970's in the cattle feeding industry provided technology that made significant improvements in gain and feed conversions. Incorporation of these technologies into the cattle feeding industry has resulted in a decrease in the amount of feed required for unit of gain from over 7 units in the early 1970's to, oftentimes, less than 6 units today. Although the driving force that has directed these changes over the past few decades has been economics, the changes have also had a positive impact on the environmental issues feedyards are now facing. The primary environmental issues faced by the cattle feeding industry today stem primarily from the nitrogen and phosphorus delivered to the yard as feed that is subsequently deposited on the pen surface as manure. Manure nitrogen contributes mainly to air quality concerns and manure phosphorus contributes primarily to water quality issues. Because of existing technology, these environmental issues are not as big today as they would be without the previous changes in feeding management practices. It is estimated that use of these new technologies has decreased manure production by 3 million tons annually compared to what would be produced using 1970's technologies. However, additional new feeding strategies need to be developed and implemented in order to continue the trend of improved feed efficiency while at the same time, reducing nutrient excretion (especially nitrogen and phosphorus) to the environment.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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