The Future Use of Technology in the Feedlot Industry

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The livestock industry has historically been the largest source of demand for corn, and has been continually trended upward as demand grows for meat products. 2006 marked the beginning of a drastic change in the economy of this sector. Feed costs more than doubled, and price variability increased sharply. The major driver of this change was the demand for corn used for ethanol production. The price of feed increased so rapidly that the prices of finished animals could not keep up, and cattle producers experienced record losses. Further exacerbating the issue, increased ethanol production has shifted cropland use away from other feed sources such as soybeans. Further, the Energy Independence and Security Act signed into law in December 2007 requires that motor fuel be blended with certain amounts of ethanol, and allows the ethanol industry to pay any price necessary to obtain enough corn to fill the mandate. As a result, not only did feed prices drastically increase, but also increased fuel prices. This impacts producers again, and also lowers the spending income of consumers, which has been shown to reduce consumer demand for beef. (Wisner, 2008)
The future use of technology in the feedlot industry is hard to predict. Some consumers want to see the use of technology decrease, particularly feed additives such as antibiotics and beta-agonists, and growth hormones even though these technologies yield some of the greatest returns on investment of any feedlot technology. However, the use of animal identification technology and product traceability is likely to continue increasing. Improvements in feed milling and delivery that reduce labor, and reduction of animal health issues are also likely to continue in use and improvement. (Galye...

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...ucers. Beef quality assurance (BQA) incorporates topics which are related to the quality and efficiency of beef production, which will increase profitability for producers through meat premiums. BQA provides guidelines for animal care, handling, proper storage and use of feeds, animal health products and their use, record keeping, carcass quality management, cattle marketing, biosecurity, and transportation. (Dale et al, 2009) Audits of the beef industry have demonstrated progress in improving the quality of beef products over the past 20 years, however there are always improvements still to be made. The 2005 National Beef Quality Audit indicated that a total $55.58 was lost in value per head due to undesirable quality grade, yield grade, carcass weight, hide, and offal. Much of this lost value could be recaptured if producers followed BQA guidelines. (Radunz, 2010)

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