Post-storm strategies for feedlot cattle producers


Cattle in muddy feedlot.

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – Mother Nature has created a new environment for northwest Iowa feedlot producers. Torrential rains have turned once-dry feedlots to mud, and accompanying hail may have bruised cattle. Iowa State University extension beef specialist Beth Doran said it's important to have a strategy and plan in place to deal with the issues facing producers.

“Wet, muddy conditions reduce weight gain and can compromise cattle health, so the first thing to tackle is mud,” she said. “While not perfect or easy, there are some emergency strategies for dealing with mud.”

Here are some suggestions.

  • Where possible, place whole round bales of cornstalks, straw, or hay on areas with less mud. The cattle will tear up the bales and lay on the bedding.  
  • If you cannot access dirt surfaces of the feedlot, scrape the bunk apron and concrete-surfaced areas to provide a dry, solid surface for cattle to lay down. Scrape the apron regularly to keep it dry and clean.
  • On wide aprons over 20 feet, place bedding in areas beyond the 20 feet behind the bunk.  Continue to add bedding to form a bed pack and leave the bedding in place until feedlot conditions improve.

"Because hail can cause physical injury to cattle, be aware that marketing may need to be delayed if cattle were hailed upon," Doran said. "The extent of bruising depends on the size of the hail and how soon the cattle are marketed after experiencing hail."

Data from a Texas feedyard that experienced hail ranging from 1¾ to 3¾ inches in diameter indicates cattle sold within 15 days of being hailed upon had significant carcass bruising. However, by day 49 the bruising had returned to normal baseline levels.

For more information on dealing with post-storm issues, contact Doran at 712-737-4230 or email



The Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University was established in 1996 with the goal of supporting the growth and vitality of the state’s beef cattle industry. It comprises faculty and staff from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine, and works to develop and deliver the latest research-based information regarding the beef cattle industry. For more information about IBC, visit

Beth Doran, ISU extension beef specialist, 712-737-4230,


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