Finishing Steers in a Deep-bedded Hoop Barn and a Conventional Feedlot: Effects on Behavior and Temperament during Summer in Iowa

  • Robert G. Baker (Iowa State University)
  • Anna K. Johnson (Iowa State University)
  • Kenneth J. Stalder (Iowa State University)
  • Mark S. Honeyman (Iowa State University)
  • W. Darrell Busby (Iowa State University)


As the Iowa beef industry invests in environmental management, there has been increasing interest in systems where runoff is minimized. A possible housing option used previously for pigs and sheep to help mitigate some of these environmental concerns are hoops. The objective of this study was to compare steer behavior and temperament between two treatments; hoop building (HP; n=3; 4.65m 2 / steer) vs. conventional feedlot (FD; n=3; 14.7m 2 / steer) during the summer months. A total of 240 crossbred Bos taurus steers were used. Steers were ear tagged, implanted, and weighed (445 ± 31.7 kg) on arrival and allotted to balance weight and breed. Behavioral data were collected using a 10 min scan sampling technique using live observation by two experienced observers from 0700 h to 1600 h on d 34, 56 and 91 of the trial. Two behaviors (head in bunk and head in waterer) and three postures (lying, walking and standing) were recorded. One day postbehavior collection, steers were moved through a squeeze chute for subjective temperament scoring. Scores ranged from 1 (exits chute calmly) to 6 (very aggressive, charges handlers). There were no (P = 0.22) differences for head in bunk behavior between treatments, however there was a difference (P = 0.02) for drinking, with HP steers spending more time at the waterer than FD steers. Lying incidence was greater (P = 0.004) for HP vs. FD steers. Fewer (P < 0.05) HP steers exhibited walking or standing behavior compared to their FD counterparts. Temperament scores were not different between treatments (P = 0.13) but day and day*treatment (P < 0.001) were sources of variation for temperament measures. In conclusion, overall time budget differences were observed with HP steers being less active but spending more time engaged in drinking related behaviors. Temperament scores increased during the trial but did not differ between the two housing treatments. Therefore, housing steers in a hoop barn does not result in detrimental alterations in either behavior or temperament when compared to steers in a conventional feedlot.

Keywords: ASL R2404

How to Cite:

Baker, R. G., Johnson, A. K., Stalder, K. J., Honeyman, M. S. & Busby, W. D., (2009) “Finishing Steers in a Deep-bedded Hoop Barn and a Conventional Feedlot: Effects on Behavior and Temperament during Summer in Iowa”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 6(1). doi:

Download pdf



Published on
01 Jan 2009
Peer Reviewed