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This article in CS

  1. Vol. 51 No. 2, p. 410-419
     
    Received: June 30, 2010


    * Corresponding author(s): Bphillips53@cox.net
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doi:10.2135/cropsci2010.06.0382

The Relevancy of Forage Quality to Beef Production

  1. W. A. Phillips *a,
  2. G. W. Hornb and
  3. N. A. Colec
  1. a USDA-ARS, 7207 W. Cheyenne St., EL Reno, OK 73036
    b Dep. of Animal Sci., Oklahoma State Univ., Stillwater, OK 74078
    c USDA-ARS, P.O. Drawer 10, Bushland TX 79012

Abstract

Low cost and abundant fossil fuels have driven the U.S. beef industry toward greater dependence on feed grains as the major feedstuff for finished beef cattle production. Further, it has led to a centralized beef cattle feeding and processing system concentrated in the High Plains states. Low cost fuel and mechanization of harvesting of forages allowed cow-calf producers to calve in late winter, which produced older heavier calves in the fall. The stocker industry evolved as a cushion between the cow-calf producer, stabilizing the flow of cattle into the feedlots and resulting in a steady flow out of the feedlots, through the processing plants, and into the retail market. In the future, other domesticated species and biofuel demands will out bid beef cattle for feed grains and transportation cost of live and processed beef cattle will increase. As a result, a greater proportion of our finished beef supply must come from forage-based diets harvested by grazing beef cattle and the final product will be processed nearer to the consumer to lower food miles and total cost of the finished product. Improving forage quality, extending the grazing season, selecting beef cattle that are efficient converters of forages into body weigh gain, and developing sustainable forage-based grazing production systems will be imperative.

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