It has been abnormally dry across much of the cattle feeding country with moderate to severe drought in many places. Dry weather has made for good cattle feeding conditions across cattle feeding country. Typically, March and April are two of the wettest months of the year, which will be a blessing to most of the central plains and western US bringing spring pasture. But these wet months can also be times of extreme mud in dry lot situations. Cattle feeders in the Corn Belt are more likely to have issues with deep mud that can negatively impact cattle performance. Mud depths of 4 to 8 inches can decrease feed intake up to 15% primarily because cattle make fewer trips to the feed bunk. Mud-coated hair also does not insulate cattle well thus more energy is required to maintain body temperature. All of this can decrease daily gain 10 to 20% and increase cost of gain 15 to 25%. Given the dry conditions, it likely that interventions could still be used to minimize the negative effects of mud in the coming months. Correcting pen drainage issues, especially around the feed apron and water trough, and rebuilding mounds would be two important strategies to minimize the negative effects of mud.

Figure 1. Anticipated percent change in feed intake, daily gain and cost of gain for feedlot cattle with 4 to 8 inches of mud.