Corn and cattle industries aid in search for sustainability


Averi Hales, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

November 14th, 2020


Beef producers and corn growers are growing closer together, says National Beef Cattlemen’s Association (NCBA) Cattlemen to Cattlemen Host Kevin Ochsner. The Nov. 3 episode of Cattlemen to Cattlemen focused on the complementary relationship between the corn and beef industries, as well as common challenges and opportunities for producers of both products.


Kevin Ross, president of the National Corn Grower’s Association (NCGA) and Iowa corn farmer, says the cattle feeding industry accounts for the consumption of 1.9 billion bushels of corn annually. Mike Drinnin, owner of Drinnin Feedlots, adds corn makes up a huge part of the rations ,and although the business raises some corn, they buy approximately 80 percent of the corn they feed.


Complementary industries


The corn and beef industries are no doubt, two very complementary industries, shares Ochsner, especially in the fight to produce more with less.


“The first thing that comes to mind is the taste, tenderness and juiciness of beef when fed corn-based diets,” says Dr. Galen Erickson, a ruminant nutritionist with the University of Nebraska. “Secondly, we feed corn and corn by-products as an energy source to cattle. The more energy going in, the faster the rate of gain is and the more efficient cattle are.”


He notes this efficiency bodes well for the U.S. beef system because it has helped advance the industry to be the most efficient beef production system in the world.


“I would also like to point out cattle producers use a lot of parts of the corn plant in different ways,” Erickson adds. “We can also put up silage or use the residue to graze. We certainly try to capitalize on the feed-stock being produced.”


Kylee Geffert of Geffert Farms adds corn producers make a lot of production and harvest decisions with the beef industry in mind.


“One of the things unique to corn producers is the way we make decisions about when to harvest and how to process corn,” says Erickson. “In an integrated system, either on a producer’s operation or with their neighbors, the decision to harvest dry corn, high-moisture corn or even silage is present, even at the time of planting.”


“One of the beauties about corn in general is it is such a versatile crop. When it comes to feeding animals in general, especially beef cattle, corn is used in so many ways,” shares Ross.


Generational operations need efficiency ...


Sustainable production ...


Producer and consumer education ...