Producing, processing and marketing forage-finished beef for consumers in the southeastern United States

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2008: $151,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
Chris Kerth
Auburn University, Department of Animal Sciences
Chris Kerth
Texas A&M University


  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: meat


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Farm Business Management: market study, marketing management
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships

    Proposal abstract:

    With the increase in the price of fuel and feed grains, recent projections have shown that finishing local cattle on forage would be more profitable than transporting them to the Midwest to be finished in feedlots. With 50% of mature beef cows located in the southeastern U.S. (Little, 1985), a significant opportunity is presenting itself to small cattle farmers in the Southeast. We have already done significant consumer acceptance studies and found that one-third to one-half of consumers in the Southeast prefer the taste of forage-finished beef. We have identified specific producers that want to participate in a pilot-scale production, processing, and marketing study. In a previous study, we surveyed small packing plants around the state of Alabama to determine the capacity that each would have above current production and identified those that are interested in processing beef for this venture. Finally, we have specific companies that already have distribution systems in place that would allow us to get the product to the consumers.process and market forage-finished beef on a small scale that could be replicated by interested cattlemen and processors. If we are able to establish a pilot scale production and processing system for forage-finished beef, it has the potential to add nearly $100 million to the Alabama economy alone.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our specific objectives are to: 1) improve cattle producer's knowledge of managing and marketing forage-fed beef, 2) develop a processing and marketing system to support the production of forage-fed beef products, 3) develop partnerships between cattle producers and small, local beef processors, 4) provide farmer and cattle background information to consumers and collect consumers' feedback. We will be able to do this through partnerships that we have already established like cattle farmers Paul Swisher and Randall Hastings who have already agreed to be a part of this project. We will utilize established packing plants like the Lamber-Powell Meat Laboratory and distributors like Twin-City Wholesale in Opelika. We currently have all of the tools and participants needed to carry out all of our objectives.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.