Montcalm County has some 1800 beef cows in production herds. Average herd size is approximately 26 cows resulting in 70 herds in Montcalm County.
Nationally, there are over 70 recognized breeds of beef cattle. In Michigan, we deal with 7-8 primary breeds. Several popular breeds include Angus, Charolais, Hereford, Limousin, Shorthorn, and Simmental.
Beef cow-calf production targets two primary markets. The first are purebred or seedstock producers who primarily use single-breed genetics to produced animals for sale to commercial producers. Commercial producers use purebred or crossbred animals to produce offspring destine for harvest and consumer. The Montcalm county area of Michigan is a moderate climate compared to the state as a whole and conducive to forage production. For this reason, most beef production in the area is cow-calf oriented.
The primary breeds of cattle are divided into two main categories. The first is British breeds including but not limited to Angus, Hereford, and Shorthorn. The second are continental breeds including but not limited to Charolais, Limousin, and Simmental. British breeds are generally smaller framed earlier maturing breeds of cattle. If you are looking at entering the beef industry and looking at breed selection, use the resources listed at the bottom of this page for current industry trends and consumer expectations.
FEEDING AND NUTRITION
Cattle feeding or feedlots as they are called are a smaller part of the beef industry in Montcalm County compared to other regions of the state. The primary reason for fewer cattle feeding is soil-types and crops grown. Montcalm is a diverse county with many soils conducive to potatoes or forage crops. Cattle feeding is generally centered around areas of high corn or grain production.
Forage production in Montcalm County fits nicely into the commercial cow-calf producer or stocker producer who raises feeder cattle on pasture. These are both areas of increase potential for beef production in the county.
Cow-calf production is often accomplished with minimal housing. Cows don't need shelter but may need seasonal wind protection and short term shelter during calving or herd health checks. Cattle feeding operation where calves are housed and fed higher concentrate diets often require shelter or roofed areas especially during wet periods in the spring and fall.
Cattle produced in Michigan are sold through several marketing options. Cattle ready for harvest are sold through area auction markets or direct to packers. Feeder cattle are also sold through auction markets or direct from farm to farm. Michigan has some 13 area auction markets and two packers harvesting beef cattle on a weekly basis.
Other niche markets also exist where cattle producers market their finished cattle directly to the consumer in smaller quantities. This is usually done with the help of local meat packers in the freezer beef trade.
The Michigan Beef Industry Commission
Michigan Cattlemen's Association
Michigan State University Beef Team
American Angus Association
American International Charolais Association
American Hereford Assocation
North American Limousin Foundation
American Shorthorn Association
American Simmental Assocation