Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version

June 2004


Published by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Copyright © The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska. Used by permission.


Cattle feedyards in Nebraska were surveyed in April 2004 to determine costs of labor for various production and administrative employees. Fifty-nine feedyards, with an average size of 9,473 head, provided levels of salaries, benefits and bonuses paid to their employees, and the number of employees in several job-function categories. Results of the survey indicate that the average total compensation (salary, benefits, and bonuses) for feedyard managers was more than $66,000 per year, but it varied substantially by feedyard size. Total compensation to other supervisor categories of labor, including assistant manager, yard foreman, mill foreman, and maintenance foreman, averaged in the $40,000 to $50,000 range. Production labor categories, such as mill operators, feedtruck drivers, cowboys, and maintenance personnel, typically received from $30,000 to $40,000 per year compensation. According to the feedyard survey respondents, most employees are provided health insurance, life insurance, and retirement plan benefits.

Feedyard labor costs have increased approximately 5 percent per year across all labor categories since the last feedyard labor cost survey in 1999. Some categories of workers, including mill foreman and operators and maintenance foreman, saw even larger increases. Much of the increase in total compensation in recent years has been driven by increasing cost of providing benefits. This paper reports both the results of the 2004 labor cost survey and provides a summary of previous surveys conducted by University of Nebraska and Nebraska Cattlemen. Overall, feedyard labor costs have continued to increase in Nebraska, surpassing the rate of inflation.