Nebraska's cattle producers are focused on market and industry trends to take full advantage of livestock numbers already shifting in their favor.

Recent weather conditions and advantages held by the state of Nebraska have helped move cattle-feeding numbers north. 

Using the “Nebraska advantage” to grow the livestock industryAlthough cattle supplies are in decline, the latest cattle on feed report shows Nebraska is now the No. 1 cattle-feeding state, edging the previous leader, Texas, by 20,000 head. As those in the industry look to expand their operations, a new report considers the industry’s economic potential in the state.

"We all know that livestock is big business in Nebraska," Ronnie Green, vice president of agriculture and natural resources for the University of Nebraska, at the Governor's Ag Conference in Kearney. "Clearly there are opportunities to expand the industry to ensure further economic success in our state."

The Lincoln Journal Star reports Nebraska feedlots have capitalized on calves brought in from other states and abundant supplies of corn and water which have improved profit margins. Additional biofuel plants in the state have made distillers grain widely available to livestock operators as well.

The 24-page report highlights the “Nebraska advantage,” a collection of factors benefitting the state’s livestock industry that includes access to crop, livestock and biofuel production. While identifying areas where state livestock production has fallen, it also lists expansion scenarios for beef cattle, dairy cattle, pork and poultry.

"As the state's land-grant university," Green said, "we are hoping to use this report as a way to start a statewide conversation about this potential, understanding that all Nebraska citizens have a stake in this matter."

Pete McClymont of the Nebraska Cattlemen told the Lincoln Journal Star the distinction of becoming the top cattle-feeding state and a reputation of having great beef, great weather and great genetics will make Nebraska the top choice for export markets.

Increased production in the state benefits rural communities but growth is dependent on assistance from community leaders and public policy makers.

The report was prepared by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. It is available on the agricultural economics department’s website.