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 4:
Is it economical to feed cattle corn considering the downstream environmental and health effects?
All agricultural production systems involve tradeoffs and create environmental impacts. And the industry recognizes a need to continuously work to reduce environmental impacts from corn production and in cattle feeding. However, research shows that, for a given volume of beef production, grain finishing requires fewer cattle, less land, less feed, less water and produces less greenhouse gas emissions than grass finishing. More on that later.
See question 3 from this series here.