Producer’s Guide to  Pasture-Based  Beef Finishing

Greg Halich, University of Kentucky
Fred Martz, University of Missouri
Jeff Lehmkuhler, University of Kentucky
Gregg Rentfrow, University of Kentucky

Beef cattle were routinely finished locally in Kentucky, Missouri and the upper south before the 1950’s, primarily on pasture with some grain or by-products from distilleries and grain processing mills.  Cattle were typically born, raised, and finished on the same farm, sent to a local butcher, and the meat sold in nearby communities and cities.  This all changed after the Second World War as grain and transportation costs decreased dramatically in conjunction with the establishment of supermarket chains that required a large, steady supply channel.  The combined effect of these changes made finishing in large centralized locations more economical.  Over the next couple of decades the finishing industry consolidated, and feedlots sprang up across the Great Plains[1] to finish the bulk of the nation’s cattle.

[1] The Great Plains has a dry climate well suited for large finishing operations and has low human population densities making it less subject to land-use conflicts. (read more…)