Sponsored By

Industry At A Glance: Feedlot Treatment Costs Continue To GrowIndustry At A Glance: Feedlot Treatment Costs Continue To Grow

The bottom line is that treating cattle disease, along with all production factors, has become increasingly costly in the feedyard.

Nevil Speer

November 21, 2013

2 Min Read
Industry At A Glance: Feedlot Treatment Costs Continue To Grow

USDA’s Veterinary Services (VS) provides the beef industry with valuable services through its various surveys over time. These surveys allow for useful and meaningful insight into major trends within the industry. One such survey is assessment of the feedlot sector.

This fall, VS released results from the Feedlot 2011 survey. When compared to the Feedlot ’99 survey, one of the most interesting aspects surrounds the difference of treatment costs for various cattle diseases. It’s important to note that the survey details direct treatment costs (e.g., cost of antibiotics) vs. indirect treatment costs (loss of performance, labor, etc.).  

In fact, the direct cost of treatment of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in feedlot cattle is substantial at $23.60/case. These costs appear to have nearly doubled since 1999, when the cost of treatment was estimated at $12.59/case. This direct cost alone highlights the reason that feedlot operators’ management strategies are frequently directed at minimizing the occurrence of BRD in these cattle.

The bottom line is that treating disease, along with all production factors, has become increasingly costly in the feedyard. As such, it’s probably safe to assume that indirect costs have also increased proportionally. Additionally, the data clearly indicate that BRD and pneumonia continue to be the largest and most costly challenge to managing new arrivals at the feedyard.


Respondents indicate that 16.2% of all cattle are affected by BRD (vs. 14.4% in 1999). In other words, we haven’t made any progress toward reducing incidence of BRD in the feedlot. Simultaneously, 21.3% of cattle are estimated to undergo preventive treatment (metaphylaxis) in the latest survey vs. 18.8% in 1999.   

What’s your assessment of these costs? Are the actual costs in line with those on your operation? Do you find these trends surprising? How are managing treatment costs to keep them at a minimum?

Leave your thoughts below.


You might also like:

60 Stunning Photos That Showcase Ranch Work Ethics

5 Simple Steps To Up Your Cow Herds Profitability

Bale Grazing Lets Cows Feed Themselves

3 Lessons From A Greenpeace Dropout

80+ Photos Of Our Favorite Calves & Cowboys

About the Author(s)

Nevil Speer

Nevil Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, KY.

Nevil Speer has extensive experience and involvement with the livestock and food industry including various service and consultation projects spanning such issues as market competition, business and economic implications of agroterrorism, animal identification, assessment of price risk and market volatility on the producer segment, and usage of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
Dr. Speer writes about many aspects regarding agriculture and the food industry with regular contribution to BEEF and Feedstuffs.  He’s also written several influential industry white papers dealing with issues such as changing business dynamics in the beef complex, producer decision-making, and country-of-origin labeling.
He serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
Dr. Speer holds both a PhD in Animal Science and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Contact him at [email protected].

Subscribe to Our Newsletters
BEEF Magazine is the source for beef production, management and market news.

You May Also Like