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Dec. 2020 Newsletter – Matching Facilities, Structures, Management Styles, and Health Protocols for Cattle

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Catawba Valley Cattlemen’s Association
(meets the 2nd Tuesday of each month)
This month’s meeting is on Tuesday, 6:45 p.m., December 8, 2020. Fifteen-minute business meeting and 7 p.m. educational program on Cattle Health in Confinement Facilities. This will occur on your computer by a Zoom meeting or you can listen as a conference call. If you want to come to the extension office, call (828) 465-8240 and leave your name and number. I will set up a Zoom for you here. The governor has changed the inside allowed amount again.

Meeting Agenda
6:45 p.m. – Business Meeting – Mr. Brandon Bowman, President and Dr. Amanda Whitener, DVM, Treasurer                                               
7 p.m. – Educational Program: Setting Cattle and Facilities up for Success. Zoom info below
Speaker: Mr. Walt Graham,  Sr. Territory Manager, VA, Western North Carolina and East TN
8 p.m. – Meeting adjourned.


  • CVCA will make a mineral order. Price is $16.68/ 50lb.bag. Make your check out to Bartlett Milling Company. Checks will be mailed or carried into our office and Mrs. Natalie Cline will mail all checks at one time to the supplier. Address: Cooperative Extension Service P.O. Box 389 Newton, NC 28658
  • Grant money is available via the FSA. Call (704) 872-5061 Ext. 2 Statesville office or Dallas office in Gaston County (704) 922-3806. Or check out these websites: Recover, Disaster Tool, CFAP
  • Waynesville Bull Test Sale, December 5, This Saturday, 11 a.m. 40 bulls. Floor $1750. Bulls will be at the WNC Regional Livestock Center Friday afternoon for viewing. Call NC cattlemen’s Office if you did not receive an email this week concerning the sale (due to edicts) (919) 422-9108. If bad weather call Saturday a.m. at  828.456.3943 or 919.795.9696.

Mr. Walt Graham, Sr. Territory Manager in the state of VA, Western North Carolina, and East TN, Wrote the following: “I plan to show some pictures of some of the feeding facilities for beef calves in my area. Discuss challenges with some of the confinement feeding situations especially related to cleaning and stress. Vaccination protocols, calf vaccine history, and health can all tie in to make feeding calves in confinement a challenge or pleasant experience. There are situations where feeding cattle in these barns creates efficiencies but there is a fine balance between too much condition and leaving pounds on the table when marketing. We will take a look at getting the health right on cattle before changing them from stocker calves to feeders.”

Call Natalie for an invitation by email then you can just click on it and it will carry you straight to the Zoom program.
Matching Facilities, Structures, Management Styles, and Health Protocols for Cattle
Livestock producers need to develop a holistic plan for the production area to increase efficiency and protect the environment. The production area for a cattle facility is more than just a barn for housing animals; it also includes pastures, drainage ways, ponds, feed and manure storage structures, loading/unloading areas, feeding areas, animal housing, and dead animal disposal facilities. Manage the production area properly to enhance animal health and herd production while also preventing the discharge of pollutants that can pose a threat to the environment and human health. These goals can be accomplished by strategically choosing and implementing management practices, structures, and facilities. For example, cattle feed efficiency increases if the feeding area is kept clear of mud and manure (Table 1). Choosing a facility that minimizes mud, diverts clean water, and provides a system for collecting manures improves system efficiency while protecting the environment, a win-win situation.
Improving herd production starts with creating an optimum environment. To optimize cattle performance, health, and efficiency, provide livestock with clean unfrozen drinking water, airflow, and forages. In general, provide animals with an environment that includes shade, windbreaks, adequate space, and structures that reduce the generation of mud, such as mounds, roofed shelter, and appropriate hardened surfaces.
Table 1  Relationship between mud and feed efficiency

Mud Depth (in) Feed Intake
(Difference, %)
Daily Gains
(Difference, %)
Additional Feed Required (Difference, %)
    4” – 8”     -8 % to -15 %       -14 % 12 % -13 %
   12”-24”        -30 %       -25 % 20 % – 25 %

Recommended Facilities – Generally speaking, across the United States there are three different kinds of beef housing facilities for intensive cattle production: open lot, barn with lot, and total confinement. Variations within each system exist when surfaces, mounds, and shade are included in the design. When considering any beef housing system, the most important factor to take into account is that the facility is not allowed to have any sediment, pathogens, nutrients, or any other form of pollution move offsite. Simply put, there cannot be a discharge of pollutants leaving the operation. Out of the three different types of housing systems, total confinement is ideal because of the high moisture conditions in North Carolina. Open lots and partial confinement are not ideal, but they can be utilized providing proper site selection, stocking rates, and BMPs are in place. Typically, there are multiple benefits to the producer, cattle, and environment when a producer transitions from open lots to confinement systems, including the following: • Animal comfort and feed efficiency generally increase. • Cost is reduced. • Clean water is easily diverted, and the amount of liquid that must be managed is reduced.
Table 2. Facility design specifications.

Facility Type Animal Environment) Surface Type Area Needed per animal (ft2) Slope Needed (%)
Total Confinement Controlled Paved 50-701     #1 2-4
Partially Roofed Confinement Some protection, 3 sides Paved 50-70 2-4
Open Feedlot Little or no cover or protection



400-800 4-6       #2
Paved 80-150 2-4     #1

#1 Producers need to consider animal size, feeding areas, areas around drinkers, depth of bedding, and frequency of cleaning.
#2 Any slope over 6% makes it difficult to control the speed of the water.
Mr. Walt Graham will be actually taking us on tour via slides to see various facilities of producers he works with. He will focus on the balance between health protocols and confinement facilities.

Written By

Natalie Cline, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionNatalie ClineCounty Extension Administrative Assistant Call Natalie Email Natalie N.C. Cooperative Extension, Catawba County Center
Page Last Updated: 3 years ago
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