Custom Cattle Feeders

What is a Custom Cattle Feedlot?
A custom feedlot is a cattle feeding enterprise that provides the technology, skills and services to someone who wants cattle fed to a specific market weight. Basically, a custom feedlot is a lot like a cattle feeding hotel: it furnishes room, board and services to the feedlot cattle and customers.

What services does a custom feedlot provide?
An Iowa custom feedlot can and will provide all services relevant to feeding cattle. The customer can receive help in purchasing feeders, financing cattle and/or feed and yardage, risk management and marketing of the cattle. Standard services include daily inspections of cattle, bi-monthly economic and growth performance updates and processing and health services.

Is financing available?
Yes. Many custom feedlots have close working relationships with banks and the farm credit system. If a customer wants to purchase cattle, generally he or she can obtain a loan for 70 to 80 percent of the cost of the feeder cattle and feed/yardage. If a customer wants to retain ownership in his/her cattle, the lending institution will reimburse the owner up to 70 - 80 percent of the value of the cattle. Feed and yardage will also be financed if the cow/calf operator chooses to.

What's the minimum number of cattle I can feed in a custom lot?
Pen sizes will range from 20 to 200 head. A customer can find an Iowa custom feedlot to fit his/her needs. But, the customer must be aware that growth and economic performance of the cattle may be altered by type, size and sex. Sometimes several feeders will form a partnership or feeding corporation. This spreads the risk and permits them to place cattle on feed every month and to sell every month, further spreading the risk.

What happens when the cattle arrive at the custom feedlot?
Cattle are typically weighed, given permanent identification as to who owns the cattle, and go through an extensive health processing program. Every animal is inspected daily for health. Sick animals are taken to a hospital pen and are treated through the guidance of consulting veterinarians.

Are my cattle protected by insurance?
Most custom feedlots carry all-peril insurance against fire, lightning, tornadoes, theft, smothering in snow storms, etc.

What is a normal feeding period?
In Iowa, the feeding period of cattle may range from 100 to 230 days. This is dependent upon initial weight, type of cattle and ration fed.

How are the cattle sold?
The commercial feedlot serves as the representative of the customer's cattle. The feedlot will receive bids on the cattle and will then confer with the owner as to whether the cattle should be sold. Feeding cattle in a custom feedlot gives you a marketing advantage. Custom feedlots market cattle on a regular basis.

For more information, call the Iowa Cattlemen's Association office, 515-296-2266.