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Fattening at the Feedlot

Hi Everyone, today I'm going to talk about our feedlot in Bogor with a current capacity of 800 heads, fully covered, equipped with pens, drinking fountains and feeding bays.

Feedlot Location

The fattening stage in the feedlot can be divided into four periods: Arrival, Adaptation, Growth and Termination. Each stage is described below:

1. Arrival: Transport causes a lot of stress to the cattle, especially on long journeys. When the cattle arrive at the feedlot, they are tired and dehydrated. Therefore, we try to make the trip the shortest and less stressful as possible. In order to allow them the opportunity to recover from the trip, it would be ideal to set them in a paddock with grass and fresh water for one or two days. After the resting period, the cattle are weighed and separated into lots according to their size and moved into the pens.

2. Adaptation: It can be defined as the time required for the animal to adjust to a certain situation or environment. Cattle are grazing herbivores, so they are naturally adapted to live in pastures, so, because of this, it is challenging to keep them in a confined environment. In order to minimize this problem, it is necessary to carefully plan the cattle and management routine, taking into account the factors that increase stress and causes failures in the adaptation of the cattle to the feedlot. Usually, we must pay attention to the size of the pen, the area available per animal, characteristic of the lot, the composition of the diet, weather conditions and the constant presence of unknown people, sounds and objects. To identify animals that are not adapting well, it is necessary to monitor the animals individually! This monitoring should be daily, paying special attention to animals that have deep voids on their ribs, dry nostrils, that show an absence of rumination, that seeks self-isolation from the group or remain resting for longer than usual periods of time and that do not look forward to eating and drinking. The diet in this phase is predominantly grass rather than feed concentrate. The amount of concentrate is increased every 3 days and the volume of increase according to the observation of the leftovers. This phase lasts for around 20 days.

3. Growth: In this phase, the cattle should be adapted and showing normal behavior. The most important factor in this phase is the diet composition. The diet in this phase should already be at least 60% concentrate and 40% grass, up to a 70/30 ratio. It is a diet with more protein and less energy.

4. Finishing: In the finishing stage, the diet is changed to a more energetic and high-caloric one, which will cause the animal to deposit fat in its carcass. The concentrate levels are 70% with 30% of pasture up to a 80/20 ratio.

During all phases, animals should be individually monitored on a daily basis in all zootechnical aspects, to see if any of the cattle is sick or have not adapted to the system. The greater the space available per animal, the lower the risk of social stress and the faster the dominance hierarchy will be established. Therefore, the maximum capacity for each pen is 100 heads. The drinking fountains must be cleaned every 3 days to ensure that clean water is always available to the animals. Weighing the animals should be done every 20 days to monitor the average daily weight gain and identify animals that are not growing as desired. The keepers must also ensure that all animals have easy access to the feed trough and drinking fountain at all times of the day during the entire confinement period. Cleanliness and animal welfare are the keys on having an efficient feedlot operation.

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