By Steve White, Grand Island Bureau Chief - bio | email
Texas may have oil, but Nebraska strikes gold. The Huskers rise to number one in cattle feeding, pushing the Longhorn State to number two. And that gold is the corn Hank Klosterman feeds his cattle.
"The farmer and what he provides for us is the corn, that's cattle feeding in Nebraska," Klosterman said.
Hank says grain makes gain. And because of feedlots like his, Nebraska now has more cattle on feed than any other state, at 2.46 million, which is 20,000 more than Texas. It marks the first time in decades Nebraska has topped the USDA cattle on feed report.
Speaking to NTV last summer, Klosterman said, "I like to think we are still truly the Beef State because we're comprised of a lot of little producers that make up a larger number of fed cattle versus the other states that are made up of big cattle feeding corporations
And the state is uniquely positioned to stay near the top of the charts because of three things: cattle, corn, and ethanol.
Dr. Terry Klopfenstein, animal science professor at the University of Nebraska Lincoln said, "The corn board calls it the golden triangle. From a meat standpoint maybe it should be the red triangle, but I'll go with gold corn."
Klopfenstein says irrigation ensures a consistent crop.
And as the number two ethanol state, Nebraska has plenty of an important byproduct in the form of the distiller's grain, which has been embraced as livestock feed.
The professor said, "I taught for 35 years that the energy from corn was in starch and so ethanol takes starch out and makes ethanol and leaves what's left. Now I have to try to convince former students there's more energy per pound in that byproduct than was in that corn to begin with."
Governor Dave Heineman says the state has been focused on livestock as economic development, saying when cattlemen do well, so does main street.
And Hank says that's definitely the case.
"And it goes down to the people I hire, places I buy from, places I market to," Klosterman, the cattle feeder said.
So how did we knock Texas off the top spot? Drought has affected cattle numbers there.