Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published for the Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XX December 11, 12 and 13, 2007 - Fort Collins, Colorado.


Expansion of the ethanol industry is having a major impact on all of agriculture including the cattle industry — the largest impact of any development we have seen in the past 40 years. Cattle feeding has enjoyed relatively inexpensive corn and therefore greater amounts of weight have been put on cattle in feedlots rather than outside of feedlots. Calf-feeding has developed to the point where up to one third of fed cattle might be considered calf-feds. Increased corn production in 2007 is keeping corn prices at moderate levels — higher than the last 40 years but less than the prices of late 2006 and early 2007. At current crude oil prices and government subsidies, ethanol plants can afford to pay $4 to $5/bu. for corn. We as a cattle industry need to prepare for the eventuality of that corn price. How then does the industry compete with $4.50/bu corn? Beef cattle are extremely versatile and we believe there are good opportunities for the use of forages and byproducts in the production of beef.