Many reports and stories claim that cattle feedlots, so-called factory farms, force feed the cattle a diet made almost entirely of corn. Many of these reports also claim that corn fed beef is unnatural, and that when it comes to grain-fed versus grass-fed beef, grass-fed is always better.
The Facts: Cattle feedlots and feedyards are not feeding cattle diets made up entirely of corn.
The truth about factory farming, or cattle feedlots, is that feedyards are made up of caring, professional people including cowboys, veterinarians and animal nutritionists who make sure cattle receive the best care possible on a daily basis, and that includes ensuring they receive a proper, nutritious and balanced diet. Here’s what you should know about what cattle eat in a feedlot:
- Corn isn’t bad. When cattle arrive at the feedlot, they eat a roughage based diet, which includes large amounts of hay and fiber, before moving to a higher energy diet, with grains that often include corn. Corn is part of the carefully balanced, nutritious diet provided in cattle feedlots under the guidance of animal nutritionists.
- Free feeding. Feedlots do not force cattle to eat, but give them ample space to roam, and the ability to eat from the feed bunk at their own pace and leisure.
- 100% nutritious diet: Many reports claim that a grain or corn diet is unhealthy, and that cattle in feedlots, or factory farms, are receiving an unnatural diet that consists mostly of corn. That’s simply not true. The staff members at feedlots take great care to create a balanced diet for the cattle that includes grasses, grains, forages and renewable feeds like:
- citrus pulp
- almond hulls
- potato peels
- distiller’s grains
- soybean chaff
- Grain-fed vs. Grass-fed beef. Both grass and grain diets provide a nutritious diet for cattle. The ruminate – or four-part stomach of cattle – allows them to digest multiple types of feed, and convert it into powerful protein. No studies have shown a significant difference between grass -fed or grain-fed cattle when it comes to safety or nutritional content.