Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Feedlots of the USA

A feedlot or feedyard is a type of Confined Animal Feeding Operation which is used for finishing livestock, notably beef cattle, prior to slaughter. They may contain thousands of animals in an array of pens. In the picture below the size of a big feedlot in the USA can be seen:

The feedlot, developed post World War II in the United States due to the rise of fast food operations, enables the cattle to gain weight faster through grain feeding and protein supplements, in order that the cattle may reach mature slaughter weight at a much faster rate than traditional grazing methods, while taking up less area than required in traditional grazing methods. The feedlot system, however, displaces cattle from a species-appropriate environment into a confined area where feeding takes place through mechanized trough-like systems. The feedlot also relies on a grain-fed method to fatten the cattle, disregarding the cattle's ruminary nature:

While feedlot systems provide inexpensive and readily available meats to supply the world's high beef demand, pasture-fed beef becomes a more sustainable system for the environment. The feedlot system allows all of the beef supplied from a feedlot to become homogenized due to the similar nature of the grains that the cattle are fed, instead of allowing the cattle to retain the flavors of the vernacular grass species found in the cattle's original location, as is the case with traditional farming methods given by pasture-fed cattle. The current feedlot market is controlled by four main corporations, including Cactus Feeders and ConAgra.

The biggest feedlots:
Most of the feedlots in the USA are situated in California, Colorado, Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and South Dekota. These feedlots can have more then 100.000 cows in it. For example this one in Grand View in Idaho which is the biggest in the USA, and therefore also in the world. Because there is no country in the world which uses this kind of huge feedlots. Another huge one is situated in California near Coalinga. This is supposed to be the second biggest feedlot in the USA. Other big feedlots can be found around the town of Greeley in Colorado. This town is known for its terrible smell that comes from the feedlots which surround this city. The biggest near Greeley is this one, and here is another big one near Greeley. And last but not least; this one in Nebraska is also among the biggest in the country.

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