Last weekend, the Mom, Dad and Daughter at the Meat Counter spent time enjoying the Fort Worth Stock Show. We drove 6 hours, stayed two nights in a hotel and paid money for parking and admission to look at cattle, sheep, a few goats, and a trade show. It was great! We loved it! I would spend every weekend the same way! I know; however, that most people don’t enjoy spending time evaluating cattle on their days off like our family, and that’s ok.
This week, I am very excited about my trip with students to the National Block and Bridle Convention. It’s being held in Murfreesboro, TN, and we’ve spent a whole day at the Cattlemen’s Industry Convention. I have been so excited. People from all aspects of the beef industry, 6,000 to be exact, gather together to teach, learn and celebrate the beef industry at this annual convention. We are a passionate bunch. If you are interested in the happenings, you can follow along by searching the hashtag #CIC12.
The Dad at the Meat Counter and I have a few cows (50 or so), and the Daughter at the Meat Counter is starting her herd (she actually had cows before she was born). We are part of the Beef Industry and beef is a big part of our life.
So, I decided that I needed to dedicate a post to BEEF! and the Beef Industry. I recently spoke at the Madison County Cattlemen’s Association meeting and shared with them some facts about the industry, and I thought I’d share some with you as well. Most of these facts came from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association website.
- In 2011, there were 92.6 million cattle in the US
- Cattlemen spent $44 billion on them.
- Cattle farms (or ranches to some people) make up the single largest segment of American agriculture. (31% of farms in the US are dedicated to cattle)
- In 2007, 97% of cattle farms were family farms
- 90% of American cow herds have fewer than 100 cows. The average cow herd size in the US is 44.
- The average cattleman (beef farmer) is 58 years old.
- The US beef industry harvested 33.5 million head of cattle in 2011 to produce 26 billion pounds of beef.
- Texas has the most cattle, followed by Kansas, Nebraska, California, and Oklahoma.
- In the US, all beef cattle spend most of their lifetimes grazing grass on pastures.
- Cattle designated for meat production are switched to high-energy, grain-based diets for about 100 days before harvest to give their beef the juiciness and flavor that we Americans enjoy.
- 8 out of 10 people consume fresh beef (bought out of the retail case in a grocery store) regularly, eating beef prepared at home an average of 1.7 times each week.
- At home, ground beef is the most popular item and steaks are 2nd
- Families, which make up 1/3 of households, purchase and prepare greater than 50% of fresh beef served at home in the US.
- Beef is the #1 protein served in food service, which is made up of restaurants, hotels, schools, etc..
- Ground beef makes up the greatest volume of beef sold in food service (63% of pounds)
- But, steaks make up the greatest amount of total dollars spent in food service (42% of dollars)
- How have things changed for our industry in the past few years? (This is where the numbers get really cool!)
- Since the early 1980s, the number of cows producing calves and, eventually, beef has been decreasing. (You would think that fewer cows would mean less beef. Right?)
- While cow numbers decreased, beef production increased from 1980 to today, because the pounds of beef produced per cow has increased dramatically in the past 30 years.
Here’s the cool part! This data is from research published by Dr. Jude Capper from Washington State University.
- US cattlemen produce 20% of the world’s beef, but only have 7% of the world’s cattle.
- American beef cows in 2007 produce 131% of the pounds of beef that American beef cows were producing in 1977.
- Even though cattle are producing so much more beef, they are doing it using 81% of the feed, 86% of the water, and 66% of the land used in 1977. (WOW!)
- And, to produce beef in 2007, cattle produced only 80% of the manure and methane produced in 1977 as well as 89% of the nitrous oxide.
- So, a pound of beef produced in the US in 2007 has 82% of the carbon footprint of a pound of beef produced in 1977.
To sum it all up, the US beef industry is producing more beef with fewer animals, using fewer natural resources, and lessening the impact on the environment. All of these accomplishments are due to the innovative people in the US beef industry!