I was able to tour extensively a feedlot in Lockney, TX, operated by Cargill. It was originally an independent feed yard until purchased by Cargill a number of years ago. It is permitted to hold 70 000 head, however is currently feeding around 52 – 53000 head. The cattle purchased for the feedlot are from all around the US, with the big majority being Angus cattle. It is a unique feed yard in that it does not do a days feeding program, 80 or 120 days for example. Instead, after the cattle have been started on feed for a certain amount of time, they are weighed and scanned for fat, marbling and REA (EMA). They are then put into new mobs accordingly, so cattle are placed together that are similar in terms of fat depth, marbling and rib eye area. They are then feed accordingly to their scans, which in turn maximizes efficiency of the whole system. All the cattle in a group therefore should have similar quality & yield grades.
They have 6 different rations which they feed the cattle, depending on which stage they are – from entry into the feedlot to a finishing ration. Like the majority of cattle feed in the US, it is a corn based ration with the ethanol by-product, Dried Distillers Grain also used. There is also a number of other components that make up the diet, which includes a number of micronutrients, like zinc and copper.
The cattle are fed 3 times daily and about 650,000 gallons or water is used per day. The pens that house the cattle are cleaned once every week to remove manure and try ensure the animals are always in good health. It is then stockpiled and taken by an independent company for different purposes.
Unfortunately due to regulations put in place by Cargill, I was unable to take any photos at the feed lot, so I cannot share any with you!