Increasing Beef Consumption Keeps Cattle Industry Relevant

By Paterra, Paul | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 25, 2007 | Go to article overview

Increasing Beef Consumption Keeps Cattle Industry Relevant


Paterra, Paul, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


For about 40 years, Alquin Heinnickel has been feeding and selling cattle.

He has about 600 head on his Crabtree farm, located on Route 119 just four miles outside of Greensburg.

"You just go at it every day," Heinnickel said.

Beef farming remains a relevant business in Pennsylvania. Paul Slayton, executive director of the Pennsylvania Beef Council, said there are 28,000 people in the state who raise cattle.

Slayton said the number of farms raising cattle has increased in recent years. The latest census taken by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2002 listed 20,571 farms that sold cattle and calves and 14,743 farms for beef cows.

"People love beef," Slayton said. "They're always going to eat beef." They also love veal, hamburger, hot dogs and any other product that comes from cattle.

"Consumption is increasing every year," said Ed Graham, secretary for the Westmoreland County Cattleman's Association. "The quality of beef is really improving in the supermarket."

Graham was born on a cattle ranch in North Dakota and has been involved in the farming business for about 62 of his 72 years. He has about 35 cows for commercial use on his farm three miles from Greensburg.

Dustin Heeter, livestock educator for the Penn State Extension, said beef farms in Western Pennsylvania, for the most part, are small, averaging about 12-15 head. "That's not all that different from the national average of 22 cows per herd," he said. "We're a little bit smaller than that."

Some of those in the beef and bull farming business raise calves, taking care of them until they reach the age of 7-10 months. Then the calves are sold to the cattle feeders, who put them on feed for a period of time to get them ready for slaughter.

"We usually buy calves in the fall at about 500 pounds," Heinnickel said. "We'll feed them throughout the year, take them to about 1,250 pounds, then sell them to the packing plants. …

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