Oklahoma Country – Spring 2021

Page 14

Commodity Corner

pasture to plate Just how long does it take to get your steak dinner?

s temperatures start to rise and grills begin to sizzle, many Americans will sit down to enjoy a tender steak or juicy hamburger this summer with friends and family. Today, the beef industry as a whole is one of the most important agricultural sectors in the United States, accounting for roughly 18% of the $374 billion in cash receipts for agricultural commodities in 2019 alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But the U.S. cattle industry is so much more than just numbers and statistics. Unlike some countries, the U.S. dairy and beef sectors are completely separate. Depending on their consumption of beef, some countries breed animals specifically to be dual-purpose, meaning they can be used for both milk and meat. As the largest consumer of beef in the world, that is simply not an option for the U.S., resulting in the largest fed-cattle market of any other country. However, the task of getting the steak to your plate is not as easy as you may think. So, from pasture to plate, just how long does it take for beef cattle to make it to your dinner table? 14 — Oklahoma Country

Cows and heifers* are bred and begin the roughly 283-day gestation period (just more than nine months).

Once the cows and heifers calve, the calf will stay by the mother’s side for six to 10 months or until they weigh between 450 and 700 pounds.

Cattle that are not raised entirely on pasture to be sold as grass-fed beef will be delivered to a feed lot to continue growing for four to six months.

At weaning, calves will go one of two ways: some will stay to grow the herd or sold to diversify genetics, while the remaining will enter a stocker program, where they will grow and thrive on pastures with supplemental feed and vitamins provided by ranchers.