A comprehensive life cycle assessment of United States beef will provide benchmarks and identify opportunities for improvement. On-going region-specific data collection is characterizing cattle production practices for a more accurate assessment. This study reports production information obtained via online surveys and on-site visits from 2 of 7 regions: the Northern Plains (Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) and Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin). Ranch responses (n = 512) represented 1.6% of beef cows maintained in both regions with operation sizes varying from 1 to 12,500 cows. Feedlot responses (n = 120) represented 9.6 and 3.7% of cattle finished in the Northern Plains and Midwest, respectively. Ranch herd sizes increased and stocking rates decreased moving westward. Average animal BW increased from south to north. Also recorded were bull and replacement heifer numbers; housing facilities; feed production and use; and machinery, energy, and labor use. Feedlot characteristics including entering and final BW, background and finish feeding periods, crop area per animal, and labor were similar across the regions, but the Northern Plains reported larger feedlots than the Midwest. Diets were similar across regions except that slightly more distillers grain and less corn were fed in the Northern Plains. Ninety-three percent of feedlots produced most of their feed (corn grain, corn silage, and alfalfa). Cropland producing feed received most of the manure produced, but a few large feedlots reported composting and export. Information gathered provides production system characteristics and inventory for conducting a comprehensive United States beef life cycle assessment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology