Drovers recently received an inquiry from a college student conducting research for a public-health class project. She sent a list of questions regarding the relative merits of finishing cattle on grass versus grain-based rations. Her questions, while somewhat biased, reflect common misperceptions of grain feeing and the kinds of question consumers are asking. For that reason, we have adapted the questions and answers into this article, to serve as possible “talking points” for our readers as you encounter similar questions from the public.
We’ll be posting the 13 questions, along with our answers, over the next couple weeks. Here is question 9:
Do you think in 10 to 15 years from now there will be more cows fed on pasture?
Not significantly more, but cattle might spend more time on pasture and less time on feedlot rations. The time cattle spend on pasture and in feedlots varies from year to year and region to region based on grain prices, cattle prices and forage availability. Corn prices likely will trend higher over time, which could result in cattle spending shorter times in feedlots.
Also, consumer demand in the U.S. for grass-finished beef likely continue growing, but the higher cost of production, and thus higher retail price, probably will limit the market share of grass-finished beef.
See question 8 from this series here.