As we approach the end of 2016, we want to look back on the top 10 articles from Bovine Vet this year. Read the number twobelow.
We'll be posting the 13 questions, along with our answers, over the next couple weeks. Here is question 2:
In your professional opinion, who is responsible for the trend to feed cattle corn?
There are several stakeholders involved, including corn growers, cattle producers and consumers. The practice of finishing cattle on corn-based rations began in the Corn Belt area, essentially as a way for farmers to manage their financial risk. These "farmer-feeders" found that in years when corn prices were low, they could improve their financial returns by purchasing cattle, feeding some of their crop, and selling finished cattle in place of corn. In years with high corn prices, they sold more corn and fed fewer cattle.
Over time, American consumers learned to prefer grain-finished beef, and that preference continues today. That led to expansion of the cattle-feeding business, and much of the feedlot business eventually moved from the Midwest to the High Plains region, largely because the drier climate is favorable and our transportation infrastructure made it feasible.