"Feeder cattle" is a term used in the commodity market to refer to cattle raised for slaughter and consumption. Commodity traders use the population of feedlots to predict potential shortages of live cattle.
Feeder cattle are sent to feedlots as calves once they reach a weight of 600 to 800 pounds. At the feedlot, the feeder cattle are fattened to a weight of 1,000 to 1,300 pounds over a period of a few months on a diet of corn, sugar beet waste and grains to prepare for slaughter. The greatest proportion of feeder cattle are male, but females are also included.