Nebraska Beef Goes Global   1 of 6
Beef State in the 21st Century

Cattle in the Sandhills
Cattle in the Sandhills.
Courtesy Moni Hourt, from the 2008 NET Television program, Beef State

Nebraska entered the 21st century with impressive statistics. As of 2006, Nebraska had the top three beef cow counties in the U.S., including the nation’s No. 1 cow county — Cherry County, with nearly 165,000 cows. Holt County was No. 2 (101,000) and Custer County was No. 3 (93,000). Also among the top counties in the nation was Lincoln County at No. 15 (69,000).

Cherry County, Nebraska
Cherry County, Nebraska.

Four Times as many Cattle as People

January 2006 figures illustrated that Nebraska continued to have far more cattle than people. Cattle outnumbered Nebraskans nearly 4 to 1. Cows numbered 1.93 million versus Nebraska residents who numbered just 1.7 million. Those cows plus the 4.7 million head that were sent here to be fed annually totaled nearly 6.64 million cattle.

Cowboys rounding up cattle
Cowboys rounding up cattle.
From the 2008 NET Television program, Beef State

The cattle industry continued to be Nebraska’s largest industry, with nearly $7 billion in sales and, when you accounted for all of the other businesses that supported the cattle industry (like veterinary medicine), that number jumped to just over $12 billion.

cattle eating grain
Cattle eating grain at fence row. Photo by Brian Prechtel.
Courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture, k5643

There were about 4,500 feeding operations in Nebraska in the early 2000s, and while some lots were enormous, just under 800 of them took care of more than 1,000 animals. That meant there were over 3,700 feedlots that each held less than 1000 animals at a time.

Nebraska led the nation in beef exports, and world trade was growing, linking Nebraska to a much larger global economy.

Read more about it:

The Nebraska Advantage . . . Beef Cattle

Nebraska Advantage - Beef Cattle

Courtesy Nebraska Department of Agriculture

But those exports were injured severely by a single sick animal.

1950-1974 Beef State  
Follow THE STORY OF BEEF through the decades.
Beef Moves
to Nebraska
High Falutin’
Beef Goes Modern
NE Beef
Goes Global