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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Nienaber, John - Jack

Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Animal Science
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/23/2004
Publication Date: 10/29/2004
Citation: Nienaber, J.A. 2004. Beef cattle: housing. Encyclopedia of Animal Science, 77-80.

Interpretive Summary: There are advantages and disadvantages of beef housing. For cold conditions, housing provides shelter from wind and precipitation, and protects the feed. For hot conditions, housing provides shade and blocks the direct solar heat load. However, cattle are well adapted to both heat and cold conditions, but quick temperature changes can be a danger. Also, extreme heat, no shade, high humidity, and very low airflow is a combination that can be a hazard. The most critical feature of successful beef housing is adequate ventilation to remove heat and moisture. Separation of the manure from the animals is also a primary requirement. Therefore, it is necessary to balance the advantages with costs when making a decision to provide housing.

Technical Abstract: There are both advantages and disadvantages to beef housing. While housing cattle provides shelter from winter winds and precipitation, reduces solar heat loads during hot summer conditions, reduces mud and dust problems of open feedyards, and improves the operator's control over manure and possibly odors, there are substantial cost increases. These include both capital and maintenance costs, as well as possible performance reductions. Reducing space allotment reduces the capital cost, but at the expense of performance. Under current economic conditions, the advantages of manure control will most likely dictate the feasibility of beef housing under moderate climates. However, shade structures without special pen surface treatment have been shown to be beneficial. Warm housing in severe cold climates may be beneficial, but protection from wind and precipitation provides the primary benefit to performance.

Last Modified: 05/29/2017
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