The Future of Feedlots
Marc Roth, M.S., P.A.S.
For those old enough to remember watching the integration of the broiler industry, followed by the integration of the swine industry, you’ll also remember that the conventional wisdom was that “it cant happen in cattle,” Perhaps the most compelling reason offered was the enormous land requirement to support the calf factory.
The capital and management required to become a mega calf producer seemed simply overwhelming, Additionally, the grain companies who were some of the early large-scale feeders were quite conscious about their grain farmer customers perceiving them as competitors for land, Aside from these obstacles there was the matter of economics. Through most of the last four decades, calves were available for less money than a start-up venture could produce them for, little has changed on the cow- calf side, Production units have got- ten a bit larger, genetics have gotten a little better, management has improved; but a large amount of land is still required to raise many calves, However, we see more and more of these calves contracted by feeders- Some of these contracts arc being extended to multi-year arrangements creating situations where the ranch is essentially a contract producer for the feeder.