Review Article Open Access

The Influence of Bedding Application in Feedlot Cattle: A Review

Dathan Thomas Smerchek1 and Zachary Kidd Foster Smith1
  • 1 South Dakota State University, United States


A sizable portion of cattle on feed in the United States are fed in the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains region where temperatures routinely fall below freezing during late fall, winter and early spring. The persistent cold temperatures coupled with snow accumulation, wind, moisture and ice can cause undesirable pen conditions for confined cattle, ultimately resulting in decreased insulative capacity of cattle hair coat as a result of dampness and mud or manure accumulation. For cattle, the insulative capacity of the haircoat is an important factor related to their lower critical temperature (LTc) threshold. The LTc for homeotherms is the temperature below which the organism’s metabolic rate must increase in order to maintain homeostasis. Using bedding to improve cattle comfort and growth performance is a common practice used in livestock production. However, the exact degree to which bedding improves growth performance is difficult to quantify. Some previous work related to the effects of bedding application and differing housing techniques on beef cattle growth performance, carcass characteristics and calculated maintenance coefficient have been done, however, findings have been variable. Thus, during winter months, understanding the amelioration in maintenance requirement as a result of bedding application is crucial as it may allow for more accurate tracking and growth performance prediction in beef cattle. This review of the literature is intended to provide insight into the energetic principles related to increases in energy required for maintenance as a result of a cold environment as well as the influence of bedding application on energy required for maintenance and growth performance in beef cattle fed in cold environments.

American Journal of Animal and Veterinary Sciences
Volume 16 No. 1, 2021, 62-70


Submitted On: 7 December 2020 Published On: 23 February 2021

How to Cite: Smerchek, D. T. & Smith, Z. K. F. (2021). The Influence of Bedding Application in Feedlot Cattle: A Review. American Journal of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, 16(1), 62-70.

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  • Bedding
  • Cold Stress
  • Energetics
  • Maintenance Requirement
  • Lower Critical Temperature