Cows Use 2.5 Pounds of Grain Per Pound Not Ten Pounds

A pig or chicken spends its life-consuming feed concentrates while most beef is raised on grass to a weight of 750 pounds prior to entering the feedyard. The average slaughter weight of a steer is 1,300 pounds, so only the last 550 pounds of beef is produced from grain. Thus, beef only uses 2.5 pounds of grain per pound of total product produced. When corn gets expensive, cattle are typically kept on grass to reach heavier weights. If corn is cheap, then cattle are taken to the feedyard at lighter weights.

Typical beef requires about 410 gallons of water to produce one pound, a similar amount to avocados, walnuts and sugar, plus beef production can actually help sequester carbon, is not necessarily a source of methane, and is a nutrient-dense food.

Feed is not always as “grain” and can sometimes refer to hay, corn stalks, and other non-concentrated, non-grain animal feed.

When the cattle reach about 600 – 900 pounds they are then transferred to a feedlot (unless they are grass-finished, in which case they spend their entire life on pasture.) The diet the cattle eat at a feedlot is between 70 – 90 percent grain, the other 10 – 30% of cattle feed comes from industrial byproducts like the grain leftover from distilleries, which doesn’t compete with humans for food. At the feedlot, cows gain an average of one pound per six pounds of feed they consume. Market weight is approximately 1,200 – 1,400 pounds at an age of 18 – 22 months.

SOURCES- Sustainable dish, Noble Research Institute
Written By Brian Wang,

33 thoughts on “Cows Use 2.5 Pounds of Grain Per Pound Not Ten Pounds”

  1. Too much of anything, even too much moderation, can be bad for you. The thing is whether you eat too much meat now or not — it is definitely not a given.

  2. If lab meat can reach the level of quality of animal protein, then I guess we could let the oxen go to extinction like the aurochs did. I'm sure they'll thank us.

  3. I will say nothing about Papua New Guinea, but I'm fairly certain that there are no anthropophagous tribes left among the uncontacted tribes in the Amazon basin. The last ones probably disappeared in the 19th Century.

  4. That's the logicstitians fallacy: Some people produce meat, notably in Papau New Guinea and South America.

  5. It's worthwhile to independently verify advocacy figures like these. I recall my kids coming home from school with a sheet saying so many gallons of water are wasted brushing teeth. So, we ran a little experiment. I turned on the tub faucet (that runs faster than the sink) and ran it into a bucket while the kids brushed their teeth. When they finished we compared the water in the bucket to the figure from school. It was off by at least 2x. Now, I happen to pay for water and I didn't want my kids wasting it, but I did want them believing well-intentioned distortions.

  6. Livestock grainfed by the cheapest available stuff is a big reason why western world suffers from heart disease. The ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is way too low, and the meat comes out unhealthy.

  7. Too much food isn't good for you. Too much meat isn't good for you. A reduction in meat consumption would not only save you money but could add good years to your life.

  8. What a great misinformation piece of great use of semantics this guys used there. Going by their new logic, if you don’t feed grains to a cattle, then producing one kg of cattle is more cost effective(and land area effective) than producing one kg of grains. 

    It still costs 10x more to produce 1kg of meat protein than 1kg of grains protein. This is the facts and reality, it doesn’t matter if we feed the cattle with algae or cat food.

  9. There’s 60% by weight of sellable product per pound weight after slaughter.

    EDIT: And the cuts that would end up as hamburgers or steaks (so not say beef liver or leather) would be more like 36%

    EDIT2: the livestock marketing graphic does use the right relative unit to pork and chicken though.

  10. This is ludicrous. Plants are constantly consuming water. Water is where the hydrogen comes from to make their tissues. And they use water to cool themselves through transpiration.

  11. Good point. Humans eat literally tons of meat and don't produce any meat. Maybe its time to cull their herd or harvest them for soylent.

  12. When it comes down to the Bacon vs Bureaucrat cage match I will put my money on Bacon every day.

  13. For people that like meat, lab grown meat is a good alternative, don't need a lot of animals for that.

  14. Yes, but the process just to get the sugar is as hard as the whole thing with H, assuming abundant H, if made from sunlight for example. Having plants in the sunlight is now a problem, as both vertical farming with lights and H vats in the dark need far less land in the sunlight. It is a market, the winner has some trick better than anyone else.

  15. Mmmm…. vegan diet, yum yum. No more nasty T-bones, cheeseburgers, ribs, sirloin, or any other gross meaty meal. (sarcasm alert).

  16. Brian the equation is not linear. The cows don't eat 550lbs of feed an then gain 550lbs. Think of how much humans eat and their weight gain/loss.

  17. It seems likely Cyanobacteria can be efficiently engineered to continuously excrete sugar with only sunlight and CO2 as inputs.

  18. Exactly, the food source varies from place to place, grass fed cattle is considerably better than artificial rations, the land use is higher but if done correctly animals in pasture contribute to the biodiversity and sustainability of the area. Grass fed cattle also converts otherwise useless nutrients and energy in grass to aminoacids necessary to humans. Grass fed meat, milk and derivatives are of better quality. And water use is not that much important in certain areas and circumstances.

  19. Best step is no step:) More effective is not to feed cows and then use them to feed people, but to feed people directly:)) Cut off the middleman – cows:)

    You need to transport food to the cows, spend on electric and other bills, provide farming area, feed them, use antibiotics, growth hormones, employees, all kind of work, which could be eliminated, pay veterinaries, store meat in cold temperatures and that again costs money and poor people working in cold. Methane from bunch of cows farting&burping again and again is not good.

    Let people get proteins and other nutrients directly from plants, less work.
    Or get good lab grown meat.

  20. Plants release the water too. If "With plants, water is locked up until harvested", we would have some really heavy plants! I would just delete your first para altogether, as the second makes sense. Beef is certainly better than sugar. There is a method for making animal, eventually human, food with custom microbes that use H as their food. Could be a big deal as they usu require sugar, far more expensive.

  21. It's not even as bad as "requires about 410 gallons of water to produce one pound, a similar amount to avocados, walnuts and sugar." With plants, water is locked up until harvested. With beef, only some water is locked up. As anyone who's walked a crowded feedlot can attest, there is much more "produced" by cattle than what reaches the slaughterhouse. Thus, cattle, through waste and even respiration, are constantly shedding water, which than goes back through the hydrological cycle, to be reused, probably even before the steer is slaughtered. Even if that same 410 gallons of water is only recycled 1X, that cuts the use to 205 gallons/pound instead of 410. If the water recycles 2.5X, that's 164 gallons/pound, etc.
    There's more. Beef is much more calorie dense than avocados or walnuts, though not sugar, but it's more nutrient dense than sugar, by far. Sugar is basically poison because of the huge amounts in the Standard American Diet (SAD). We would be healthier as pure carnivores than on the USDA pyramid SAD diet with its heavy base emphasis on grain and breads. Keto specialists claim you can go your whole life without carbs, but die without protein and healthy fats (like avocados). The diabetes epidemic, fed even by the American Diabetic Association diet, proves they're right. Dr. Ekberg says steak is the healthiest of the top 10 keto foods to eat (avocados and pecans are others).

  22. Over 85% of Brazilian beef is pasture raised. In my state, the southernmost one, as far away from the Amazon as Miami, 95% of beef is free roam grass fed.

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