Thursday, November 5, 2009
Why my grass fed beef won't replace any corn for your tortillas any time soon
Sure, I'm just joking about the tortillas - practically, the seeming biggest use of corn is sent to animal food. 1% is sweet corn, 25% goes to ethanol (and the byproduct leftover is then fed to animals), 20% is exported and another tiny bit is used for food ingredients, chemicals, fabrics, and plastics. (Source: EcoProducts)
But one of the big whoppers being told by the "animal rights" activists and other enviro's is that cattle are taking the land we'd be growing crops on.
Look, I'm from Missouri, where we are #2 behind Texas in raising cattle. If the land is good enough to raise profitable crops, you won't see a cow anywhere near it.
Good crop ground makes between 150 - 200 bushels of corn an acre. It takes 2.5 acres to keep a cow alive in Missouri (more out West.) So if you are getting $800 for a full-grown steer or could take those 500 bushels of corn off those same 2.5 acres and sell them at $4 each ($2,000) - which would you do?
That's probably why we shifted over to feeding cheap corn to cows instead of having them munch away at prairie grasses. But you will also see the big feedlots in crop country, not down in the rolling hills that start where I live and keep going further down into southern Missouri.
But I'm awfully tempted to take the rest of my 45 acres I farm as crops and convert it to pasture. Why? Because it doesn't make but about 80 bushel per acre of corn. And the cost per acre is the same, whether you get a 200 bu. yield or nothing.
Crunching the numbers for the land I have showed that I got about $2,000 profit off those 45 acres last year. Pays the taxes and the bills, barely. Now, say I had a crop which didn't require inputs and was pure profit. 45 acres should keep about 18 more cows. If I sell their calves at about $600 profit, then I make $10,800 - so which is more profitable?
That's what these other big-city complainers just don't get - cattle are raised on marginal land which won't produce any decent sort of food otherwise. Our own farm land is all marginal, even the stuff we crop right now. Mostly trees, shrubs and clay ground under about 2-3 inches of top soil. Raises better grass and trees than anything else.
You go 40 miles north or east and it's a different scene. 6-8" topsoil and that 200 bu. corn I mentioned earlier.
The trick is to raise that low-maintenance, low-input, environmentally-friendly grass fed beef.
Because the land only gets better when you raise your beef right. And the quality of the beef is the best that can be produced. Award-winning and lab-tests to prove how heart-healthy it is.
And it will make this farmer improve his own rural lifestyle by being able to maybe quit his day job - one day, anyway.
If you follow what Nature laid out, not the government, you generally have an easier time of it. At least, that's what I've experienced.
Try it for yourself and see...
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While I raise my own grass-fed beef here in Missouri, I suggest you try a vendor such as La Cense Beef if you want to sample some truly wonderful, Montana-raised grass fed beef.
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