What are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of dry-lotting beef cows?

As pasture prices continue to increase, producers will look to lower production costs, especially feed cost, and dry-lotting cows may be an option. If you do dry-lot cows, it would be important that the lot be big enough or that you have an adjacent pasture that can be used as an exercise lot. When you indicate dry-lotting cows, we assume that cows may have calves at their side and breeding may occur in the lot.

– need feed bunks, 24 to 36 inches per head (this is important if all age groups are managed together)
– need equipment to deliver the feed
– need the hay to be ground or have it ground; therefore, you can mix in low-quality forages to make the diet economical
– need a more intensive herd health program for both cows and calves; also may have more feet and leg problems
– need an area that calves can get away from the cows, especially during the breeding season
– need to be really good at managing the diet
– need to observe bulls frequently during the breeding season for injury.

– may reduce production costs
– can use or buy low-quality forages and mix in cheap grain and supplement to meet the needs of the herd
– calves are ready to eat out of a bunk once they are weaned and bunk broke
– may lend itself to using artificial insemination because cows are probably close to a chute and working facility.