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Getting Started in the Cattle Business


Bill R. McKinnon and Henry S. Snodgrass of Virginia Tech University co-authored an article titled Getting Started in the Cattle Business in Virginia. The article offers great insight into an industry that our firm deals frequently with. Domina Law Group pc llo has summarized the key points of this article as follows:

The Structure of the Beef Industry

To understand the beef industry, you have to understand the production process. There are six basic parts of the beef business: seedstock, commercial cow, backgrounder, cattle finishing, packing/processing and retail.

What is seedstock?

Seedstock is the foundation of the industry. It essentially determines the cattle type. These producers pioneer new genetics for bulls and cows. Because seedstock operators are producing a product for the future, they must be able to project or have a vision for what the industry demands will be in the future.

Commercial Cows and Calves

When calculating by the pure number of operations and the amount of land it takes to run each operation, the commercial cow/calf industry is the largest sector of the beef industry. These operations are responsible for breeding, weaning and selling the calves.

Backgrounder and stocker operations: What do they involve?

Backgrounding refers to the phase of the beef industry in which calves are conditioned before being sent to feed yards. Stocker operations, while similar, purchase cattle to add pounds cheaply.

What is cattle finishing?

This is the final stage of cattle production. The calves are fed a high grain diet until they are grown and can be processed for sale.

To learn more about the beef industry and what it entails, please defer to the Virginia Tech article: Getting Started in the Cattle Business in Virginia.

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