Critics of beef production often point to pigs, poultry or fish as having better feed conversions than cattle. They frequently leave out a critical point; cattle eat things we cannot. They turn grass, corn stalks, wheat straw and byproducts such as distillers’ grains and cottonseed meal into high-quality protein for human consumption.
At the recent Academy of Veterinary Consultants conference, bovine nutritionist Tryon Wickersham, Texas A&M University, discussed his analysis of cattle as the original up-cyclers.
Source: Drovers, January 2018, page 12.
Even at the highest rate of corn and soybean consumption, cattle provide an advantage in nutrient competition compared with pigs or broilers. That advantage increases as forage and byproducts are used. While cattle convert feed less efficiently than pigs or chickens, their ability to gain weight on forage-based diets keeps beef production competitive and enhances long-term sustainability.