Grass Fed Beef - Grain Finished Beef
Local corn has been planted in fields, and the fields are quickly turning green! Eventually the small plant will yield feed for livestock that will eventually yield food for us. It always amazes me that a product like the corn in this picture begins with such a small stalk.
Cattle convert 2.24 pounds of corn into 1 pound of physical beef product. It truly does come full cycle!⠀
Our cattle spend the majority of their life kicking up their heels in green pastures, and they continue kicking up their heels when they reach adolescence and switch to eating a corn diet with free choice hay for dessert. Did you know most cattle in the USA spend the majority of their lives eating a grass fed diet? They are switched to a corn-fed diet for ~170 days before harvest.
A grain-fed ration looks different for every farmer depending on their available resources and region. This picture shows an example of what a grain-fed diet could look like. It includes corn, silage, distillers, liquid protein, haylage, and ground hay. Corn is what makes this ration considered a grain-fed ration. Cattle convert 2.24 pounds of corn into 1 pound of physical beef making corn a very valuable ingredient to the menu. This kind of ration is fed the last 160-180 (~25- 30% of their life) days of a beef animal's life. Feeding an animal a grain diet allows them to be concentrated into a smaller area and that frees up valuable land that produces the forage that goes into their diet.
As an animal science major in college, I took many classes focusing on animal nutrition, animal care, and learning from the experts about why ranchers do what they do. In my animal nutrition class, we learned about corn's abundance of protein, energy, and how easy corn is to digest in the stomach systems of cattle. The way it affects the cattle’s body is to provide them with all their essential nutrients and more to help deposit fat inside of their muscles (also known as marbling). It makes tremendous beef through this process, and especially healthy cattle, which is what happens when you meet all nutritional requirements in a diet.
As for sustainability, corn is one of the best thing we can feed in Nebraska. With the abundance of the corn crop on our property, across the road, and all around us, it doesn’t require much more transportation to get it from the field to the feed bunk! We use what the land in our area provides for us. Plus, in the winter when grass isn’t available we are able to use the corn that wasn’t picked up by the combine for the cattle to graze on.
I can go on all day about how great corn is for cattle and so fitting for our Nebraska Raised Beef! Here at Oak Barn Beef, we believe in nutritious feed for our cattle that will end up on your plate.
What questions do you have about corn-fed cattle vs. other feeding programs?
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