All Things Cattle Production

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US cattle production started in the 1500s when Spanish explorers brought cattle across the Atlantic to the “New World”. In the early years, cattle production was more for their hides and tallow. Beef, the actual meat, was a by-product on the frontier when this country was being settled. Leather and lard were more valuable to the settlers than beef.

Today, beef is the main product of “beef” cattle production. The hide, tallow, gelatin, bone & blood meal, etc are now the by-products. Dairy cattle provide us with milk, ice cream, and cheese but are also an important source of beef. Today, cattle production is the most important agricultural industry in the United States. It’s the largest share of total cash receipts for agricultural commodities in the United States.

Because cattle are an important sector of the economy, there has been extensive research and development focused on cattle production. Today, cattlemen have access to improved nutrition for their animals. The commercial feed and mineral supplements meet the nutritional needs of animals. Rather than just visual evaluation, cattle genetics today can better identify superior animals. There is also better access to these genetics through artificial insemination and embryo transfer. Now, genomics is the next big frontier being explored and utilized by early adopting cattlemen.

Animal health is another area where research and development have made improvements. Both prevention and acute treatment of livestock have improved  animal performance and animal welfare. Access to drugs, dewormers, and vaccinations helps reduce sickness in animals.

The challenge for modern producers is keeping abreast of new technology. It can be a challenge knowing what is marketing hype and what actually works. Knowing how to leverage new technology in cattle production is not always easy.

The traditional way cattlemen have learned and maintained their competence in the industry is through face-to-face County cattle production meetings. This model worked in the 1950’s, and it is still what works well today. County cattlemen’s meetings are a chance for farmers to learn. These gatherings are also a chance to network and talk with friends. If you are new to the cattle industry, make plans to attend your local cattlemen’s meeting.

For Caldwell County Farmers, the next Cattlemen’s Meeting will be held March 12 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. It will be at the Caldwell County Agricultural Fairgrounds. We’ll meet in the Jim Andrews Building. Dr. Brett McCaskill with Ascent Animal Health will be the keynote speaker. Our friends at AgSouth Farm Credit are sponsoring the meeting.

If you have cattle in Caldwell County, make plans to attend by calling the Extension Center 828-757-1290. Just leave a message if it is after hours. You can also email Let me know your name and how many will be attending. Look forward to seeing you soon.