Drovers CattleNetwork 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 3:
After World War II, the USDA made a policy that encouraged farmers to feed livestock corn in order to reduce a surplus. Besides that economic incentive, why do you think farmers didn’t resist feeding cattle corn?
In addition to the factors listed under the previous question, producers found that finishing cattle on grain-based rations significantly improved weight gains and production efficiency. Cattle also reached market weights at a younger age and produced beef that was desirable and valuable to consumers.
Also, in much of the U.S., grazing is limited or not possible during the winter months. Harvested forage is bulky and expensive to transport, which affects the efficiency of grass-finishing production systems.
See question 2 from this series here.