Build Yourself A Little Bitty Backgrounding Lot

By: Jennifer Showalter

Backgrounding lots vary greatly from one outfit to the next, but regardless of how spiffy one is or is not, the lot needs to be designed to accommodate calves as they transition from the cow to the feedyard. During this time the calves are expected to gain both muscle and bone before going on to be finished. With this in mind, WR thought it would be good idea to take a look at some of the elemental choices out there if you’re seriously thinking about putting up a little, bitty backgrounding lot. This is what we found:

Like bunk space, waterers need to be sized according to the number of cattle utilizing them. In addition to the size of the tank, water flow and pressure must be taken into account so the water volume is replenished in a timely fashion. Keeping them open in the dead of winter is extremely important for those producers who are used to the thermometer dipping below zero.

Miraco manufactures both energy free and energy efficient waterers. The energy free waterers are designed to keep water from freezing in the winter without the need for electrical hookups, but the biggest advantage is the quality of water provided. The patented roll away balls keep the water clean, cool, and algae free in the summer months. The poly material used in Miraco livestock waterers is impact resistant and will not rot or rust in any way. This poly material, coupled with sloped bottoms, makes cleaning of these waterers a simple task. Go to for more.

Your choice of two sizes of Cobett open drinking area waterers make it easy to decide which one fits best in your new backgrounding lot. These units are made of heavy duty, UV treated, high-quality black polyethylene and don’t require electricity to heat them. There is room inside, however, to hang a low wattage heater in case the temperature dips real low on those cold winter nights. Check out

A secure fence is a must around any backgrounding lot. The stoutness requirements of the fence will be depicted by the degree of confinement. The more pressure there is on the fence, the stronger it must be. With a variety of wire options out there to fit different needs, an off-set hot wire can be an added form of reinforcement to help keep cattle off the fence regardless of its type. Braces and post spacing will also need to be considered depending on how much pressure is behind the fence.

Stay-Tuff’s 949-6-330 and 1348-12- 330 would both be an excellent choice for cattle backgrounding lots. The high tensile wire used in Stay-Tuff fence does not stretch out and become loose like low tensile wire, and the fixed knot construction holds up against heavy pressure from cattle without the need for replacement or repair. Stay-Tuff fixed knot fence is available with Class 3 Galvanized or Class 40 Zinc Aluminum coatings that will far outlast traditional fencing with a thinner Class 1 galvanized coating. More info can be found at

nrew-3Red Brand barbed wire fence is available in 2-point and 4-point styles. The tough red-tipped steel barbs resist bending resulting in durability and reliability, while the 12-1/2 gauge twisted cable easily handles cattle pressure. Red Brand also offers a variety of knotted wire. Their Mocarch® knot acts as a hinge that gives under pressure, while their Square Deal® Knot prevents Red Brand fences from buckling or sagging and provides extra strength and rigidity with ample flexibility for ideal installation. Red Brand’s Cross Lock® Knot firmly affixes the fence wires together providing superior resistance to movement from animal penetration or from severe snows. All Red Brand products are made in the USA, assuring consistent quality and durability. Find out more at

Face it, a lot of feed is wasted if you don’t have a decent bunk set-up, so now’s not the time to cheap out. Have a look at what we found for deliverable, affordable bunks.

If you like the durability of steel, check out these beauties from Werk Weld Inc. located in Armour, South Dakota. Their spiffy blue 20’ Fenceline Bunk features a 10 gauge feed pan with feed saver lip to keep the feed in, a 12 gauge 1.5” square tubing panel with 14 openings, and drain holes in both ends. At 1,000 lbs. each, these units easily stack and delivery anywhere a semi can get in. Have a closer look at or call 800-987-7360.

If concrete is more your style, consider the 6,000+ psi line feeder bunk sections from The Concrete Works, LLC. These 8’ bunks feature a 32” exterior width (at top), are 13” deep, have a 6.5” clearance and weigh in at 1,650 lbs. A semi can haul 34 of these steel reinforced units right to your yard, ready to go. They come with a full manufacturer’s warranty when used in agricultural feeding systems applications. Go to www.theconcreteworks. com or call them up at 877-464-7575 for more information.

Trying to save a penny or two when it comes to purchasing gates and panels for a backgrounding lot too often results in bent up pieces of art that can never be straightened back out.

The For-Most swing gate and frame features an overhead truss constructed of 2” 10 gauge tubing. The outside uprights are 2” 10 gauge with the swing gate support made of 2” sch. 80 (double wall). Dual plunger latches help ensure the latches catch and hold properly. Controls can be operated on horseback. They are available in 8’, 10’ and 12’ widths. The frame height choices are 6’ 6” and 9’ (ride through).

For a comprehensive lineup of sturdy gates, go to your stash of WR back issues (we know you have ‘em hid somewhere), and find the April May 2013. Turn to page 24, and flip through the article Great Gates; there you’ll find some solid choices from Powder River, Filson, W-W, Priefert and Morand to finish off your new backgrounding pen.


  1. I agree that the fence is really important with this type of thing. This not only keeps your animals in, but it can keep dangerous things out. I think that a hot-wire is a really good way to keep your cattle away from the borderlines. This would be a great idea for what I have in mind, thank you for the tip!

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