Unit 2

"Typical Livestock Management Systems"

In Unit 1, we discussed animal management systems in general and noted that the particular management system used in a livestock operation will vary depending upon the following:
  • species of animal
  • intended use of animal (dairy cow vs. beef cattle)
  • location - part of the country, climate, resources available, nearness to neighbors, etc.
  • resources of producer -- land, labor, capital
  • materials handling required -- what goes in and what comes out of system
    • feed and water are materials handling inputs
      waste products and products to be marketed are materials handling outputs
  • government rules and regulations -- waste management, food safety, humane care, etc.
  • preference of producer, processor and consumer
 Keeping these factors in mind, we will now examine the requirements of different animal management systems in the United States.

 

Dairy Management System

    Species -- bovine (milk cow)
General Characteristics
  • Nutritional Needs: The cow is a ruminant. Ruminants can digest roughages and utilize pastures for much of their nutritional needs. For optimal productivity, the high-producing lactating cow has high requirements for energy as well as roughages in her diet. Many dairies will adjust the lactation ration based on the amount of milk each cow is producing at a given stage of lactation. Dietary requirements for dry cows differ from lactating cow requirements.
  • Environmental Needs: The cow is adaptable to both inside and outside environments, however the productivity of dairy cows is adversely influenced by harsh environments. Modern dairies will provide freestall housing or other forms of shelter to protect the animals from extremes of weather.
  •  
    Life Cycle Considerations
    • Reproduction is important in the life cycle considerations of a dairy, because the cow must "calve" or produce an offspring to "freshen" or to begin lactation and produce milk.
    • Cows are simultaneously in various life cycle stages in the "typical" dairy
    • Young replacement heifer calves need special management and housing.
     
    Intended Use -- produce milk acceptable for human consumption
  • Government rules and regulations mandate specific health and sanitation requirements for the cows and the dairy facilities in which they are milked.
  • Periodic inspections are performed to assure that regulations are being followed.

  •  
    Resources needed: Land, Labor, Capital (this may mandate the location of the operation)
    • Land can be lower quality; needs to be adequate to produce forage needs.  Land needs may increase as regulations for waste disposal in confinement livestock operations are promulgated.
    • Labor needs are very high - cows need to be milked 2-3 times daily, seven days per week
    • Capital needs are very high - a modern milking parlor is equipped with state-of-the-art computerized milking equipment that monitors cow production, special health concerns, and meets sanitation requirements. Older existing facilities can occasionally be used when establishing a new dairy, but  most would need extensive remodeling.
     Materials Handling
  • Input -- The materials handling input is very high for a dairy operation. The average dairy cow will consume 25 gallons of water, 20 pounds of feed concentrate, and 40 pounds of forages per day.
  • Output -- The materials handling output is also very high. An average cow gives 70 pounds of milk per day (8.75 gallons), and produces daily waste equivalent to to approximately 25 human beings.
    •  
    Beef Cow-Calf Management System
      Species -- bovine (beef cow)
    General Characteristics
  • Nutritional Needs: The beef cow is also a ruminant and can digest roughages and utilize pastures for much of its' nutritional needs. Because the demand for milk production is much less with a beef cow (10-30 pounds per day versus 70 plus for a dairy cow) there is little need to supplement the diet of the beef cow beyond a simple mineral supplement. A typical beef cow-calf operation would time calving to coincide with development of lush spring pastures at time of peak demand for nutrients and would only have to supplement the grazing forages with higher quality forages and/or concentrates during late gestation and early calving periods.
  • Environmental Needs: The beef cow readily adapts to outside environments, and often is only sheltered during calving periods.  The cow is very protective of her calf and will attack any person or animal thought to be a predator.
  •  
    Life Cycle Considerations
  • Reproduction is important in the life cycle consideration of a beef cow-calf producer because the cow must be bred to produce a calf.
  • The cow and young calves need special management during the calving period.
  • The cow herd is usually bred to calve as a group, with calving starting approximately 60 days before the grazing season begins.
  •  
    Intended Use--produce healthy, efficient calves for female brood herd replacement or for feeder calves.
      • Currently, government regulations are minimal for beef cow-calf operations, however the use of public lands for grazing is the subject of considerable debate.
       
     Resources needed: Land, Labor, Capital (this may mandate the location of the operation)
    • Land can be lower quality rangeland and hill pastures. Marginal grazing lands may be used, however many acres will be needed to supply the forage needs, or the diet will need to be supplemented with higher quality forages during critical periods of the life cycle.
    • Labor needs are much less than a dairy operation, however the labor requirement may be great during critical times such as calving and weaning.
    • Capital needs are much lower than a dairy operation. Requirements for shelter and housing are minimal and existing facilities can often be used (e.g. old barns and/or sheds can readily serve as shelter).
    Materials Handling
    • Input -- The materials handling input is somewhat low because the cows are routinely on pasture. An abundant supply of fresh uncontaminated water is important.  Diets may need to be supplemented when pastures are poor or during late gestation and early lactation.
    • Output --The materials handling output is also low, because waste need not be removed from the pasture. The materials handling increases when the animals are confined, as is recommended during calving. Since the product in this management system is the calf, the handling is great during time of weaning calves from their dams.
     
         Beef Feedlot Management System
    Specie -- bovine General Characteristics
  • Nutritional Needs: Feedlot cattle are also ruminants and can digest roughages and utilize pastures, however in the feedlot management system, the animals are typically fed higher concentrate rations to produce high quality meat. Careful balancing of the rations and adaptation of the animals to high concentrate "hot" rations is very important for their health and productivity.
  • Environmental Needs: Feedlot cattle readily adapt to outside environments, and usually are not sheltered. For examples of typical feedlots, see the following web links:  http://www.bovinafeeders.com/bovimages.htm   http://www.pacofeeders.com/index.htm
  •  
     Life Cycle Considerations
  • Reproduction is NOT an important consideration in a beef feedlot operation.
  • Efforts are made to eliminate the effects of sexual development (castration of bulls and sometimes ovarectomy of heifers) because sexual activity in the feedlot will decrease rate of gain and feed efficiency.
  •  
    Intended Use--produce lean unadulterated meat acceptable to the consumer.
    • Currently, government regulations are minimal for beef feedlot operations, however waste management and protection of the food supply from drug residues and bacterial contamination are becoming important issues.
    Resources needed: Land, Labor, Capital
    • Land is only needed for construction of the feedlots and facilities; feedstuffs are typically purchased.
    • Labor needs are higher than those of the beef cow-calf operation because the animals must be fed and cared for daily, however they are less than a dairy operation, where cows must also be milked daily. It is critical that feedlot cattle do not go off feed or that their ration is readjusted if they do stop eating for a period of time.
    • Capital needs are fairly high due to the need for feed storage and delivery equipment and feedlot pens. Existing facilities can be adapted for feedlot needs but this is not a typical scenario.
     Materials Handling
  • Input -- The materials handling input is high because daily feeding of animals is required to maximize animal weight gain.
  • Output --Manure disposal requires a high materials handling output.
  •  

     Sheep Pasture Management System

    Species -- ovine
      General Characteristics
  • Nutritional Needs: Sheep are also ruminants and can digest roughages and utilize pastures for much of their nutritional needs. The sheep pasture management system is similar to the beef cow-calf system because lambing is timed to coincide with development of lush spring pastures at time of peak demand for nutrients. The ewe's diet often needs to be supplemented in late gestation to prevent pregnancy toxemia. Ewe's with 2-3 lambs may receive dietary supplementation, however overfeeding the ewe can result in production of too much milk and cause overeating disease (Clostridium perfringens type D toxicity) in her lambs.
  • Environmental Needs: Sheep readily adapt to outside environments and are often only sheltered during lambing.  Sheep, however, are very susceptible to predators.  Sheep tend to eat more forbs and less grass in a pasture, consequently, mixed grazing with cattle is practiced in many areas.  Because sheep consume brushy plants and noxious weeds, they provide benefits in pasture maintanence.
  •  
    Life Cycle Considerations
    • Reproduction is important in the life cycle consideration of a sheep pasture management system because the ewe must be bred to produce lambs.
    • The ewe and lambs need special management during the lambing period. The flock is usually bred to lamb as a group, usually approximately 60 days before the grazing season begins.
    • Unlike other domestic ruminants, most breeds of sheep are seasonal breeders and typically will only breed during periods of decreasing day length (e.g. autumn). This has limited expansion of the sheep industry. Because there is demand for lamb by the consumer throughout the year, attempts are being made to select animals that are capable of reproducing at other times of the year. Currently, the Dorset and Ramboullet breeds can be bred in the spring for fall lambing.
     
    Intended Use--produce healthy lambs for female brood herd replacement or for meat or hobby  (exhibition).
    • Sheep are also raised for wool production, although this is not a large industry in the United States.
    • Currently, government regulations are minimal for the sheep industry, however production of safe, wholesome, unadulterated meat is an important consideration.
    Resources needed: Land, Labor, Capital
    • Land can be lower quality rangeland and hill pastures. Marginal grazing lands may be used, however many acres will be needed to supply the forage needs, or the diet will need to be supplemented with higher quality forages during critical periods of the life cycle.
    • Labor needs are much less than a dairy operation, however the labor requirement may be great during critical times such as lambing and shearing.
    • Capital needs are much lower than a dairy operation. Requirements for shelter and housing are minimal and existing facilities can often be used (e.g. old barns and/or sheds can readily serve as shelter).
     Materials Handling
    • Input -- The materials handling input is somewhat low because the ewes are routinely on pasture. An abundant supply of fresh uncontaminated water is important and diets may need to be supplemented when pastures are poor or during late gestation and early lactation.
    • Output --The materials handling output is also low, because waste need not be removed from the pasture. The materials handling increases when the animals are confined, as is recommended during lambing. Materials handling output can also be great during shearing time, when the wool is removed and marketed.
      Broiler/Egg Laying Management System
     
    Species -- Avian
      General Characteristics
    • Nutritional needs:  Poultry are Monogastric animals and cannot digest and utilize forages to meet their nutritional needs.  They need a complete balanced ration including grain, concentrate and vitamin and mineral supplements.
    • Environmental needs:  Domesticated poultry are not readily adapted to outside environments.  They are generally of low intelligence and are very susceptible to predators.  Laying hens will produce best when housed at a specific day length of lighting.
     
    Life Cycle Considerations
    • Broiler operation:  reproduction is NOT an important consideration because chicks are supplied  from a brood flock at 1 day of age and raised to be sold
    • Layer operation:  reproduction is NOT an important consideration because a hen will lay eggs without mating, however lighting, nesting instincts, etc. must be considered.
    • Primary and Multiplier Breeder Flocks are the only enterprises where reproduction (mating, and production of fertile eggs) is a prime concern.
     
    In the United States, the poultry has become fully vertically integrated, meaning that large corporations own all phases of the operation, including the feed mills that supply feed to the individual farms, the processing plants, and even the marketing and sales of the poultry products.
    Vertical Integration in Poultry
    One Corporation owns everything but primary breeder flock

    diagram of integrated poultry management system

       
     
    Intended Use--produce meat and eggs for human consumption.
  • Sanitation and food safety concerns are being regulated at the processing and retail end of the fully integrated systems.  The concern for protection of the food supply from bacterial contamination will affect management practices at the egg and broiler production phases as well.
  • Resources needed: Land, Labor, Capital
    • Land is only needed for construction of the facilities; feedstuffs are typically purchased.
    • Labor needs are high in large flock commericial operations however much of the feeding, egg collection, etc. has been automated in the poultry industry.
    • Capital needs are high due to automation, need for feed storage and delivery equipment, etc. Existing facilities are usually not very adaptable.
     Materials Handling
    • Input -- The materials handling input is high due to the large flock size (1,000-5,000 birds per building) in a totally confined operation.
    • Output --The materials handling output is also high due to daily egg collection and removal of waste material between batches of animals.
    Swine Farrow-to-Finish Management System
    Species -- Porcine
      General Characteristics
      • Nutritional needs:  Swine are also Monogastric animals and cannot digest and utilize forages to meet their nutritional needs.  They need a complete balanced ration including grain, concentrate and vitamin and mineral supplements.
      • Environmental needs:  Swine are  readily adapted to both inside and outside environments.  Shelter and supplemental heat is needed during farrowing phases of production.  Modern swine facilities are moving toward total confinement in which the feeding, health care and reproductive cycle can be more carefully controlled to maximize productivity.  Some segments of the swine industry in the United States are also moving toward a fully integrated production system, similar to the poultry industry.  Swine have a high level of intelligence.
      Life Cycle Considerations:
      • All stages of the life cycle are represented in a farrow-to-finish management system, consequently, reproduction is an important factor in the overall productivity of the operation.  A different type of operation, the feeder pig operation, is similar to the beef feedlot operation, with purchase of nursery pigs who are simply fed and cared for until they reach market age and are sold for meat.  In the feeder pig operation, reproduction would not be a consideration.
      • Simultaneous management and care of different ages and life cycle phases (farrowing, nursery, growing and finishing phases) is required.  This is accomplished in several different manners which are outlined below:
       
        Continuous flow production scheme:  Pigs are moving through each of the phases of this operation at any given time. As pigs reach the desired age or body weight to progress to the next phase of production, they are removed from a building and replaced by younger and lighter weight pigs.  There is mixing of pigs of differing ages in each of the facilities.

        All-in/All-out (AI/AO) production scheme:  Pigs are grouped by age and/or body weight and remain in the same group as they move through the different production phases.  When pigs move from one facility to another, the facility is completely emptied of animals and cleaned and sanitized before another group is moved into the facility.

        Three site/Segregated Early Weaning (SEW) production  scheme:  Pigs are weaned from the sow at 10-14 days of age and moved as a group to a nursery located some distance from the farrowing facilities.  At completion of the nursery phase of production, they are again moved as a group to a third site where the growing and finishing facilities are located.  As with AI/AO production, all facilities are cleaned and disinfected between batches of pigs and traffic between each of the facilities is minimized.

      In addition to these three most common rearing schemes, there are many other variations, such a recently introduced Wean-to-Finish management system.
         
    Intended Use--produce lean meat acceptable to the consumer.
    • Regulation of waste materials management is the subject of considerable debate.
    • Protection of the food supply from drug residues and bacterial contamination are also becoming important issues.
    Resources needed: Land, Labor, Capital
    • Land requirement has traditionally been high, because a typical operation produced its own grain and needed large amounts of highly productive crop land.  Many of the newer, large confinement operations, however, purchase all their feed and only need land for construction of their facilities.  The land requirements for these operations may change as waste management regulations evolve.
    • Labor needs are high especially as intensity and herd size increase.
    • Capital needs are high in confinement operations and are less in pasture rearing systems.
     Materials Handling
    • Input -- The materials handling input is high due to large herd size (1,000-5,000 sow) in many large confinement operations.
    • Output --The materials handling output is also high due to waste generated by large numbers of animals.
         
         
    [home] [next] [previous] [lec syllabus]