Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

Indoor Cattle Housing: Interest increasing for more options to raise beef cattle

BROOINGS, SD – Raising cattle indoors isn’t uncommon in some commodity production but  ranchers or feeders wouldn’t consider such a thing.

Or would they?

The Sixth International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare begins with experts discussing advancements in indoor beef cattle production on Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. Eastern. The symposium will occur monthly, on the fourth Wednesday, from February through June with presentations taking place from 2 to 4 p.m. E.T.

Rather than attempting to purchase extra acres to expand their cattle herds that would only support them for a portion of the year, many producers are considering the option of erecting a building to house them in full or partially as well as year round or seasonally.

In a cow calf situation, having a roof can be a tool to realize the highest number of live, weaned and healthy productive calves.  A controlled environment makes it easier to spot and treat any illness or disease cases and for cows, the dry comfortable environment helps them maintain their best body conditioning allowing timely re-breeding.

In a feedlot or finishing operation, a comfortable animal will be a more efficient and productive animal. Many producers using mono-slope or hoop barns claim a higher feed efficiency and increased daily gains and although research is thin in this area, many also assert a higher carcass quality and yield

Symposium attendees will hear from experts from Ireland, Canada, Spain, and the United States as they discuss the latest research and best practices for cattle management and production under indoor housing conditions in their countries.

“We look forward to hearing about indoor housing systems for both cow/calf programs and stockers and learning the latest research on pen density, bedding and more from throughout the world” said, Dr. Derek Haley, University of Guelph. “I am excited to be part of the dynamic discussion between these experts and the knowledge we can learn from the conference attendees as well.”

The initial webinar on Feb. 23 features the following speakers:
– Bernadette Earley with the Agriculture and Food Authority in Ireland (TEAGASC) will share the latest research showcasing their various housing systems and how certain choices in housing impact cattle welfare.

– Daniel Loy of Iowa State University will share the pros and cons of indoor feeding in the United States and explore differences in barn set-ups with a particular look at deep pack bedding and its improvements in animal welfare.

– Terry Engelken of Iowa State University will take an in-depth look at lameness and overall health when comparing mats, straw and slats as well as stocking density. He will also provide some insight on the pros and cons of indoor cow/calf raising.

– Maria Devant and Dr. Sonia Marti from the Institute for Food and Agriculture Research and Technology (IRTA) will describe the typical housing and bedding systems used in Spain and what they are learning about pen density and how to best prepare calves for their intended environment.

– Derek Haley from the University of Guelph will Chair the event and offer insights about indoor housing and bedding systems in Canada along, and the welfare impacts of those systems. In addition, he will bring the group together to discuss the differences and similarities across countries and what strategies might ensure animal welfare.

“It is rare to have experts from multiple countries gather in the same space to discuss the issues and benefits around indoor housing and beef welfare” said Dr. Janice Swanson, Michigan State University. “I look forward to learning from these experts and hearing what areas of research are needed to help producers in the continuous improvement of beef welfare.”

In addition, the symposium is calling for student abstract (undergraduate, graduate and veterinary students) submission for poster presentations. Six student abstracts will be selected by the abstract review committee and invited to give oral presentations during the April 27, 2022, webinar. The call for abstracts is open for students until March 13. Abstracts may be submitted by going to: https://events.anr.msu.edu/isbcwmca/.

Throughout its five webinars, the symposium will bring together renowned beef experts to discuss their latest research findings and emerging animal welfare issues that face the beef cattle industry. The symposium features topics of interest for anyone connected to the beef industry from academia and government to beef producers and allied industries. Participants will be encouraged to ask questions and provide input to the conversation.

The webinar series is free with support from the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Those interested in attending may register at http://events.anr.msu.edu/isbcwmca/

For more information about the program visit: http://www.canr.msu.edu/beefwelfare2022/.

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