Cattle On Feed Terms And Definitions
Backgrounded cattle: Cattle that are fed a warm up or conditioning ration that are normally fed to approximately 700 pounds and then sold as feeders or shipped to another feedlot to be finished for the slaughter market.

Calf:  Any animal less than 1 year old.  Calves by NASS survey classification are animals that weigh less than 500 pounds.

Cattle cycle:  A period of time in which the number of beef cattle in the Nation is alternately expanded and reduced for several consecutive years in response to perceived changes in the profitability of beef production.

Cattle on feed:  Animals being fed a ration of grain, silage, hay and/or protein supplement.  For survey purposes these cattle will be shipped from their current location directly to slaughter market.  They are expected to produce a carcass that will grade select or better.  Young calves fed a high energy ration which are sold and slaughtered as vealers are not considered cattle on feed for slaughter market.  Cattle being fed for home use slaughter are to be excluded as cattle on feed.

Commercial feedlot:  A feedlot whose primary enterprise is to feed cattle and market them for slaughter.

Custom feedlot:  A firm engaged in fattening or finishing animals on a fee basis.  The firm may or may not hold title to the animals.

Farmer/Feeder:  An operator who typically farms and feeds cattle on the same operation.  The cattle feeding part of his/her operation is usually worked around the farming, e.g., feeding cattle before or after crops are planted/harvested, grazing stalks, etc.  To be included as cattle on feed, cattle must go from the operation directly to slaughter.

Fed marketings:  Shipment of cattle out of feedlots to slaughter market for food.

Feedlot capacity:  The maximum number of cattle that an operator can feed at any one time during the year.  Feedlots vacant during the entire year should not be counted, even if the facilities are still intact.  Feedlot capacity is the common terminology used by commercial and custom feedlots.

Net placements:  Placements minus other disappearance.  This gives a true indication of actual placements into feedlots for the month.

Other disappearance:  Movement of animals out of feedlots other than going to slaughter market.  This includes death loss, cattle going back to grazing or pastures, and shipments to other feedlots.

Peak number:  This is the largest number of cattle fed for slaughter during the past 12 months.  This terminology is more meaningful for farmer/feeder operators that typically may not have an actual "feedlot." The peak number replaces feedlot capacity in the farmer/feeder states.

Placements:  Cattle put into feedlots with the intent to be shipped to slaughter, which are fed a ration that will produce a carcass grading select or better.

Stockers and feeders:  Young steers or heifers, weighing approximately 400-700 pounds.  These animals may be on pasture and/or a maintenance or warm-up ration until being put on full feed for slaughter market or being selected as herd replacement stock.  

Warm-up ration:  A cattle ration of grain and/or silage which prepares animals for placement in a feedlot on full feed.  These cattle are being "backgrounded" in preparation for full feed.  If these cattle will be shipped to another feedlot before going to slaughter, they should be excluded from the cattle on feed inventory until they reach the finishing feedlot.