Kansas has been a state for 150 years. This means that for 150 years, the US has been provided with many agriculture products from the Sunflower State. One I'd like to highlight today is:
Beef is a huge player in the Kansas economy and it has been for about 150 years. Beef isn't all about what shows up on your dinner plate, though. Kansas is a diverse state with many landscapes. That is a major factor lending to Kansas' success in the beef industry. Take a look at the different regions Kansas is divided up into.
The chain of production in beef begins at the baby calf level. People who raise baby calves run momma cows and calves together in a herd. In Kansas most of the cow-calf operations are located in the Flint Hills, Osage Cuestas and Smoky Hills. People who run these operations identify themselves as cattle ranchers. They are stewards of the land and livestock. To be able to put cattle out to graze on these native grasses for 150 years or more, ranchers must be ecologically aware of what the land can handle.
When calves are weaned from their mothers and ranchers begin to supplement their forage-based diet with grains we call this type of cattle operation a stocker operation. Stocker cattle convert pasture grass (a cheap source of feed for them) into beef! Stocker operations are sprinkled throughout the state of Kansas.
As calves get older and are ready to enter the final phase of production, most often they are sent out west to the High Plains region to be fed out in a cattle feeding yard. Western Kansas is an oasis of feedyards and the climate lends itself to successful cattle feeding. Feedyards house large numbers of cattle on grain diets preparing them for the slaughterhouse. Grain based diets provide cattle with a higher degree of marbling (intramuscular fat deposits leading to increased tenderness) and allow producers to get cattle to the market ready weights more efficiently. It is important for a consumer to realize that grain-fed and grass-fed are different methods of finishing cattle, but one is not better than the other. Both methods of feeding end in a beef product and just depends on what your taste buds are craving. Vote with your pocket books next time you pick out a steak at the meat counter.
Kansas Beef is celebrating 150 years and we're proud of what the industry has grown into. If you'd like a wonderful resource on what the beef industry has gone through in Kansas in the past century and a half, check out this book. 150 years of Kansas Beef has been put together by the good folks at Kansas State University and information on purchasing can be found here: http://www.vet.k-state.edu/features/beef.htm
Go eat beef to celebrate Kansas' 150 years no matter what state you are from!!!