Cattle feedlots

Cow-calf operations are very common in Saskatchewan. Cows are kept on pasture most of the year and fed hay during winter. Calves are sold to feedlots for finishing. Many are shipped to Alberta where the feedlot industry is concentrated. There are some large feedlots in Saskatchewan was well.

According to Statistics Canada, the number of cattle raised on Saskatchewan farms has remained fairly steady since 1976 (increasing from 3,132,420 to 3,363,235). In 1976 over two-thirds of the cattle were raised on farms with 200 or fewer animals. In 2006 only 30% of cattle were raised on farms of that size.

The much-heralded boom in ethanol will produce large quantities of "dried distillers grains" as a byproduct of grain fermentation. In order to dispose of this material, locating large feedlots next to ethanol plants is proposed as a solution. The nutritional quality, palatability, and the effect on meat quality of feeding cattle dried distillers grains are among many issues of concern. The quantity of water required for ethanol production and the cattle is significant.

Manure disposal is a problem, as it is with intensive hog operations. The high-energy, low-fibre grain diet of feedlot beef is designed to promote weight gain and marbling of the fat. This type of feed promotes a higher stomach acidity than is normal for cattle and creates conditions that encourage the growth of intestinal bacteria E. coli 0157, a pathogen that causes severe kidney damage when humans are infected, and responsible for six deaths in Walkerton, Ontario.