The Feedlot bedding study followed on from the scoping study, Bedding material use in cattle feedlots (B.FLT.0379 ) and investigated pen surface amendments and assessed the impacts of bedding materials such as wood chips and straw on the health and welfare of lot fed cattle, as well as environmental and workplace safety outcomes in Australian cattle feedlots.


There has been increasing interest over the past several years in the use of bedding materials in Australian cattle feedlots. While the primary interest relates to the potential for improvements in production and animal health and welfare during the wet winter period, there are many other reasons these options are being examined (e.g. heat load amelioration, dag reduction, odour and greenhouse gas emissions reduction). A scoping study (B.FLT.0379 ‘Bedding material use in cattle feedlots’) found that, although there was strong interest from lot feeders, no formal trials of bedding materials had been conducted in Australia and no information about the use of bedding had been collated. This project reports on a series of trials conducted at feedlots around Australia, with the aim of determining the most appropriate bedding type and placement for particular situations and quantifying, as best as possible, the benefits obtained from its use.

The report documents the type and cost of regionally available bedding materials and describes the trials using bedding in feedlot pens. These trials compared different types of bedding materials and different ways in which they are employed (e.g. full pen coverage, mounds, different depths of material, etc.). Changes in animal health, performance, animal behaviour, pen repair and maintenance costs, plus any workplace health and safety implications, associated with the use of the different bedding materials were requested to be recorded.  Where possible, outcomes were compared to those achieved under normal (no bedding provided) pen conditions across a number of feedlot sites representative of the full range of regional locations and environmental conditions encountered in eastern Australia (Queensland to South Australia). Some observational data on animal use of the bedding and changes in behaviour was also collected at ten feedlots.

When: 24 January 2014 to 15 November 2014

Contact: PJ Watts, MJ Yan, TJ Sullivan, MM Luttrell, RJ Davis and OB Keane

Collaborator: FSA Consulting

More information

For more information please read the final report summary or download the final report (B.FLT.0237) (PDF, 13.7 MB) or scoping study (B.FLT.0379) (PDF, 4.7 MB) from the Meat & Livestock Australia website.