Grains > Cattle Feed

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) there are 25-33 million head of feed cattle moving through custom and commercial cattle feed yards annually. The semi-annual USDA "Cattle on Feed Report" is available for public viewing.

The feed cattle enterprise is an industry where millions of dollars move through these custom and private cattle feeding facilities every year. The business of feeding cattle is based on a commodity market mechanism. Both corn and cattle are bought and sold via commodity market prices. This makes for huge variations within the final outcome of profit and loss within the enterprise. However, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange provides producers with options or hedges for smoothing price volatility and risk. Additionally, forward contracts and pre-paying for feedstuffs counteracts the variation in both commodities.


USDA label
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) released a revised proposal for a grass fed meat label claim for its process-verified labeling program in May 2006. The Union of Concerned Scientist, which in general supports the labeling proposal, claims that the current revision, which contains the clause "consumption of ... grain in the immature stage is acceptable", allows for "feed harvesting or stockpiling methods that might include significant amounts of grain" because the term "immature" is not clearly defined.
On October 15, 2007 the USDA established a standard definition for the "grass fed" claim which requires continuous access to pasture and prevents animals from being fed grain or grain-based products

Cattle called "corn-fed," "grain-fed" or "corn-finished" are typically fattened on maize, soy and other types of feed for several months before slaughter. As a high-starch, high-energy food, corn decreases the time to fatten cattle and increases yield from dairy cattle. Some corn-feed cattle are fattened in concentrated animal feeding operations.
In the United States, most grass-fed cattle are raised for beef production. Dairy cattle may be supplemented with grain to increase the efficiency of production and reduce the area needed to support the energy requirements of the herd.
A growing number of health and environmental proponents in the United States such as the Union of Concerned Scientists advocate raising cattle on pasture and other forage. Complete adoption of farming practices like grass-fed beef production systems would increase the amount of land needed to raise beef but reduce land used to grow soy and corn to feed them.


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