Tag Archives: the beef state

A Sea of Grass…A Bountiful Food Supply!

As I drove around in a jeep across Central Kenya last December, I saw a sea of grass that brought me a sense of déjà vu.  This visual image is a familiar one to me… I see it every time I drive across Nebraska visiting ranches and procuring cattle for my feed yard…

A black rhino wandering through a sea of grass...

In Kenya, much of this grass is used to feed wild animals which drive one of the largest industries in the country: tourism.

Some of my cattle---amidst a sea of grass in Nebraska...

In Nebraska, much of this grass is used to feed millions of cattle which drive the largest industry in the state: beef production.

Nebraska is home to the top three cow counties in the United States which means that we have a very large number of cow/calf ranches where baby calves are born.  Nebraska also ranks 1st in commercial red meat production and 2nd overall in all cattle and cattle sales.  This means that there is also a large number of cattle feed yards (like mine) where millions of animals are finished in preparation for harvest, and several packing plants to harvest the animals.  With a reported statistic of 99% family owned and operated the vast majority of these cattle farms are like Matt’s and mine.

Megan learns great life lessons learning the personal responsibility that it takes to care for cattle...

Grass is a wonderful resource which is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also a critical component to raising beef.  Cattle, as ruminant animals, have a digestive tract that is made up of four compartments.  This unique digestive process allows for cattle to be tremendously efficient grass converters. This provides a core component in our effort as farmers to convert a non-edible resource (grass) into a nutrient packed and great tasting human protein source (beef). Because the average beef producing bovine spends the first 12-18 months of his life grazing, and reproductive herds spend their entire lives grazing, it requires a large amount of grass to sustain Nebraska’s herds.

The great converters...

The topographic blend of 23 million acres of grassland (more than ½ of Nebraska’s land mass) with millions more acres of fertile crop ground make Nebraska a truly unique ecosystem.  It is this blend of resources that enables us to be The Beef State.  I mentioned this fact to my girls a couple of weeks ago when they were dramatically exposing their disappointment of being left out of Jason Aldean’s new song The Flyover States…

You see, we may be a "left out" fly over state, but we are The Beef State!

My oldest daughter responded to my proclamation with a toss of her head and an eye roll that both appear to me to be attitudinal actions unique to teenagers…She then remarked, “Yeah, they’ll figure out how important we are when they don’t have anything to eat!”  This is the same child that periodically asks me if I think that she would make a good President of the United States someday—I am thinking that she will require some intense media training before she will be able to successfully infiltrate the world of politics…

I I vastly prefer this expression over the “eye roll” attitude expression…

So, Nebraska has grass…Nebraska has crops (corn, alfalfa, wheat, soybeans)…Nebraska has cattle…We make BEEF! This is our claim to fame…

I have, at times, run across articles and statements that liken corn to something evil.  I am always at a loss when faced with this because I believe corn to be a very diverse and useful plant.

It can be used for many different things...

The main source of grain that I feed to my cattle is something called wet distillers grains and it is made from corn.  It is what is left of the corn kernel after the ethanol has been extracted, and it makes a wonderful feed for my cattle.  We blend it with forages (alfalfa, cornstalks, wheat stubble, or soybean stubble) in order to make a palatable and nutrient balanced diet for the cattle.

Wet Distillers Grains presented by one of my favorite blondes...

In fact, a large percentage of my cattle ration is made up of stuff that is left over.  The wet distillers grains, cornstalks, wheat stubble, and soybean stubble are all things that are left over after the primary harvest of the plant.  Cattle serve a very important purpose with their ability to convert these leftovers into a great tasting human protein source.

A blend of ground corn stalks and wheat stubble that we feed to our cattle shown by my other favorite blonde...

The next time that you look at the beef in the grocery store, remember that cattle are great recyclers, and that there is a good chance that the beef that you are buying came from The Beef State (which you all now know is Nebraska)! 

Fortunately, you can purchase this product from a friendly butcher instead of a teenager who might have a bit of a chip on her shoulder...

Thanks to Certified Angus Beef for sharing their friendly butcher with us!

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