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The big C’s

Progressive Forage Editor Joy Hendrix Published on 31 December 2021

Corn has long been a staple in the ration of cattle, so the relationship between corn growers and cattle producers is crucial in creating a well-balanced diet.

A recent National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Cattlemen to Cattlemen special covered some hot topics in partnership between producers of the two commodities and gave insight on what producers can focus on to continue to strengthen the relationship. Here are five takeaways corn growers should consider when growing for cattle feed in the coming years.

1. Cattle and corn depend on each other

The relationship between the two markets has such a strong correlation that it is vital they both remain strong and sustainable. Corn growers and beef producers should be united on matters and support each other despite their differences in order to maintain strong markets for both ends.

“We realize livestock is the number one market for our product, so we give consideration to that,” said John Linder, fifth-generation farmer and president of the National Corn Growers Association. “We appreciate our consumers and having cattle on feed; consuming 1.2 billion bushels of corn means a great deal to me and the farmers I represent.”

2. Real value added

Around 1 out of every 4 bushels of corn receives its real value in corn back to the farmgate through beef, estimates Linder. This equates to about $5.7 billion in real value back to corn farmers.

Aside from the monetary value of corn, the palatability and nutritional aspects of the feed make this a mutually beneficial relationship for the cattle producers.

Ben Klick, a fifth-generation Ohio farmer and vice president of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, spoke highly of the nutritional benefits of corn.

“It’s a high-energy feed that is very palatable to cattle,” said Klick. These qualities improve rate of gain and allow more cattle to be finished at a faster rate.

3. Corn fed leads to corn flavor

Corn stalks

The visible marbling of corn-fed beef leads to a higher-quality end product for consumers. Don Schiefelbein, a Minnesota cattleman and NCBA president-elect, believes the flavor of corn-finished beef makes a huge impact on the world stage and contributes to marketing a more flavorful and tender product as a whole.

4. Making viable markets

When it comes to making management and production decisions on the farm, the viability of the market is crucial to corn growers.

“[The market] is not something we think is ever going to wane or ever be gone,” said Linder. “Because we really like to throw that piece of meat on the grill, so we really enjoy it.”

Linder said the quality makes a big difference on the marketing of corn and the decision of where it should be sold.

5. Cattle convert corn to protein

Cattle convert corn to protein

Despite the idea that corn fed to cattle is a waste, and the product should be used to feed people, corn growers are confident that marketing their product as a feed source to cattle is a positive idea.

“One of the first things we need to realize as corn producers is: My goal is to make sure everyone gets fed,” said Brandon Hunnicutt, a Nebraska farmer and board member for the National Corn Growers Association. “Whether it’s through something as simple as corn flakes or turning it into a high-quality protein like beef.”

The energy change that takes place when corn becomes beef results in a higher-quality product that is more efficient at meeting nutritional requirements.

The bottom line is: While cattle enjoy corn, people enjoy beef. The two depend on each other to meet consumer demands and create the highest-quality product available. Knowing how they are related and keeping an eye on the markets strengthens the partnership between the two.  end mark

Staff photos.

The full interview can be viewed on NCBA’s Cattlemen to Cattlemen YouTube page.