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Abstract

This report describes the beef cattle industry and traces some recent trends in its makeup, it centers mainly on the cattle-feeding phase of the industry, but also considers feeder cattle and marketing. Beef consumption is high and still rising. Beef now accounts for about two-thirds of all red meat consumed in the United States. Continuation of present per capita trends coupled with increasing population will call for a third more beef by 1980. However, the supply of feeder cattle may become a limiting factor. Past increases have come from saving more calves as well as from larger numbers. Nearly all available calves are now used for feeders. Hence, further supplies will have to come from expanding beef cow numbers. Large-scale feedlots (those with 1,000 or more head capacity) accounted for only 1 percent of all feedlots in 1968, but they handled nearly half of all fed cattle. Farmer feedlots handled the others. Nearly all regions produce some fed cattle, but the leading cattle feeding areas are in the Corn Belt, the Northern Plains, the High Plains, and California. Large-scale commercial feedlots operate under a variety of arrangements in addition to feeding their own cattle. Some do custom or contract feeding. Some are tied into cooperatives, packing plants, or cattle ranches. Financing the physical plant for feeding cattle may run from a few thousand dollars to several million.

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