Feeder Uniformity

New System Maximizes Cattle Feeders' Ability to Manage Diversity

Greater uniformity in a pen of feeders can mean a boost in per-head financial opportunity. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo by Jim Patrico)

Variation and lack of uniformity in feedlot cattle can be a significant economic challenge for the beef industry.

Diversity can be due to a variety of things, including different breeds, genetic variations within breeds, health and even nutrition. These variations can make it hard to feed out pens of cattle in a way that will return their full economic value. A sorting system developed by Performance Cattle Company LLC helps maximize those values, and its use is expected to increase across the industry following its acquisition by Elanco Animal Health Inc.

Elanco announced the acquisition of the novel technology designed to help reduce these production inefficiencies. It classifies and sorts cattle in a way to allow for more uniform feeding, thereby leading to easier, more objective marketing experiences.

The ability to classify and sort cattle to ensure they are fed to optimal end weights represents a significant financial opportunity of $10 to $40 per head, reported Elanco. The system, known as the Cattle Classification and Sorting System (CCSS), joins Elanco Knowledge Solutions as PENPOINT. PENPOINT is a science-based method that simplifies the job of measuring and sorting cattle, ultimately limiting lost inputs and associated costs that can affect the bottom line.

Jose Simas, executive vice president of U.S. Farm Animal Business for Elanco, explained the system integrates with existing feedyard operations and information systems without adding complicated record keeping.

"Meaningful health care for livestock is more than just medicines. It is technology and innovations that help change the way we approach protein production for the betterment of people, animals and the planet," he said. "I am excited to be able to increase access to this important technology throughout the U.S. as a part of our pledge to be cattle producers' lead partner on the journey toward net-zero emissions on their farms."

The CCSS originally launched by Performance Cattle Company in 2003. In a controlled research study of 12,874 randomized steers fed in 48 pens, it showed a significant increase in actual net value derived from use of the program. Due to improved cattle uniformity within each pen, sorted cattle produced increased live weights and greater hot carcass weights. There were fewer overweight and underweight carcasses, as well and more consistent maturity levels, with less yield grade 4s and 5s.