Feedlot’s management eases hectic Fall Run time
November 3, 2016
Steve Gabel, owner of Magnum Feedyard in Wiggins, Colo., is breaking a trend in typical feedlot management. During the summer, most feedyards lose cattle occupancy.
During the fall, the pens fill quickly with young cattle. This is called Fall Run. But at Magnum, the pens are full year round.
Yard workers at Magnum said they were thankful for Gabel's objective for the company.
"When there is a pen that ships, we're getting a new pen in within a couple of days. That's good," said Tanner Smith, a pen rider at Magnum. "We stay pretty full, I like that. It makes the day go by quicker staying busy on horseback."
“Our workload may seem like more in the winter, but it’s just actually taking us longer to get through our tasks because of the conditions.”
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Smith said so far this season, the workload has remained steady, but there are a lot of fat cattle ready to go to harvest. Once those animals are shipped out and the young calves come in, Smith's workload will increase slightly. His focus will turn making sure the young cattle get and stay healthy.
Pen rider Jorge Acosta said he thought the workload for the time of year was mild, but was thankful that the pens are always full to keep him busy.
Though their fall has been pretty steady, workers actively prepare for the winter, where they said they expect their work to increase.
"The weather will slow all tasks down. We are going to have more maintenance to do and we are going to have to give an extra half-hour to an hour for everything you could normally do in an hour," said Collin Campbell, a member of the processing and doctoring crew. "Our workload may seem like more in the winter, but it's just actually taking us longer to get through our tasks because of the conditions."
Year-round cattle health is paramount to feedlot success, but during the fall when new cattle come in, employees take additional precautions, Campbell said. For example, they may bring in a familiar water tank to make sure calves are drinking water, since the new ones may not have seen a concrete water tank before.
Colorado's turbulent weather also adds risk during fall and winter, Campbell said. Magnum may get a shipment of high quality calves in and not have a single problem with them, but if the weather is bad, the stress can cause a shipment in of the same quality of calves to fare poorly.
Trent Fox of Veterinary Research and Consulting Services, based out of Hays, Kan., the consulting vet for Magnum Feedyard, said though Magnum hasn't seen the uptick in calves typical for this time of year, other feedlots are seeing Fall Run in full force.
Fox is expecting with fat cattle shipping out and new cattle being shipped in there will be an increase in sick pulls due to the fluctuating daily temperatures. The change in weather will stress the cattle's system and pre-dispose them to disease.
He said it's easy to overwhelm the cowboy and doctoring crews if the feedlot brings in more young cattle than they can handle, but with good crews and good management, like those at Magnum, there should be success.
"This is certainly a challenging time of year," Fox said. "But its also good from the standpoint of when feedyards have more cattle in them, they can operate more efficiently." ❖