Cattle Feedlot Manager Career Profile
Feedlot managers oversee the routine care and feeding of beef cattle kept in the feedlot environment. They may be responsible for managing thousands of animals at any given time depending on the size of the facility. Their primary concern is ensuring that proper husbandry techniques and feeding programs are in place to promote optimal growth for each animal in the herd.
Feedlot managers must also work within a budget to source feed and forage, hire and manage personnel, and make necessary repairs to the facility’s fencing and equipment. They also ensure that the feedlot is clean and well maintained, guaranteeing animal welfare in accordance with all applicable laws and governmental regulations.
They also work closely with the veterinarian to ensure that optimal heard health is maintained, treating minor injuries and monitoring behavior to catch any health concerns in the early stages. Additional duties include marketing cattle to buyers, dealing with sales calls from livestock feed sales representatives, arranging shipping, and keeping detailed records of cattle and expenses.
A feedlot manager can easily transition into many different roles in the cattle industry including herdsman, extension agent, ranch owner, ranch manager, livestock feed sales representative, auctioneer, appraiser, and many other support positions on farms or ranches.
Education & Training
Most advertised positions for feedlot managers require a two or four-year degree in animal science, agricultural marketing, agribusiness, or a closely related area. Some employers will consider candidates that have several years of professional experience in lieu of a college degree.
All feedlot managers should have a strong knowledge of bovine nutrition, ration formulation, forage management, body condition scoring, beef sire lines, and bovine genetics. They should be extremely familiar with the specific needs of young, rapidly growing cattle. They should also have strong computer skills for record keeping, research, and marketing.
The website Payscale.com cited an average salary of $54,000 for feedlot managers in 2015. The salaries ranged from $30,000 (for entry-level feedlot managers) to $80,000 or more for experienced professionals. As is the case with most positions, salary is commensurate with experience and can also vary by the geographic area where the facility is located.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) salary survey found a similar salary range for the general category of farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers (specific data for the niche career path of feedlot manager was not available). The median pay for this category was $69,000 per year in the most recent salary survey of 2012.
Feedlot manager positions often include a variety of fringe benefits in addition to the usual salary package. These additional perks may include items such as free or low-cost housing near the facility, paid utilities, use of a company vehicle, paid vacation, and medical insurance. In some cases, a feedlot manager may be eligible to receive a commission on sales that they broker.
According to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the level of demand for the broad category of farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers is expected to decrease slightly from 2012 to 2022. There may not be as great a change for the specific niche of feedlot managers, however, since the beef industry has shown strength in recent years.
Feedlot managers with significant practical experience, a good reputation in the industry, and strong management skills will continue to secure the best job prospects in the field.