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The Future Use Of Technology In The Feedlot Industry

868 words - 4 pages

The livestock industry has historically been the largest source of demand for corn, and has been continually trended upward as demand grows for meat products. 2006 marked the beginning of a drastic change in the economy of this sector. Feed costs more than doubled, and price variability increased sharply. The major driver of this change was the demand for corn used for ethanol production. The price of feed increased so rapidly that the prices of finished animals could not keep up, and cattle producers experienced record losses. Further exacerbating the issue, increased ethanol production has shifted cropland use away from other feed sources such as soybeans. Further, the Energy Independence ...view middle of the document...

This has the potential to change the way beef cattle are selected, and can substantially increase gains and quality of meat produced. Ideally, this data will be used in combination with pedigree and phenotypic data to increase the accuracy of estimated breeding values and selection indexes so producers can more easily find and use the best cattle for breeding, even across various breeds. (Swan et al, 2011)
As feedlots have adapted to the changing economy, they have consolidated, and this trend is likely to continue. Though traditional operations will likely continue on for some time, they cannot compete long-term with the economies of scale of larger operations, especially if feed prices continue to rise. (Galyean, 2010) Besides rising feed costs, one of the major drivers of feedlot consolidation has been the increasing size of beef cattle in the US. From 46.9 million head in 1975, the number of beef cows has dropped to only 29.3 million by last year. (Ishmael, 2013) However, the total amount of meat produced has actually increased from about 23 billion pounds in 1975 to about 24 billion today, with a peak of about 27 billion in 2008 (agmanager.info, 2014). The increase in a cow’s production has been beneficial to producers, however the lower total numbers of cattle have impacted many smaller feedlots. Since there are fewer cattle, there is excess space, and small feedlots that are less competitive often cannot fill their operation, which slowly pushes them out of business and favors large, corporate companies. (Stotts, 2012)
Another major change in the industry structure will likely be increased linkages between feedlots and cow-calf stocker operations. These linkages are a result of the financial...

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