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Wednesday, January 3 2018 7:00 AM
By Anne Burkholder

How Does Space In a Cattle Feedlot Compare With New York City?

Some of my favorite people call New York City home. The Big Apple provides a hub for many Dartmouth College graduates, and I was the exception to the rule when I traded the Northeast for the plains of Nebraska after graduation. I’ve visited New York twice since I took on a rural address, and it always broadens my perspective to immerse myself in the city life.

Each of us makes life choices to fit our individual preferences. I left urban America because I felt more at home in a place where cattle outnumber people 4:1 and my back yard was a square mile of farm ground. However, my trips to NYC remind me that the majority of people have a different perspective.

The concept of living space is an interesting one. How much room does it really take to be comfortable?

Ask a 100 people and you are likely to get at least 50 different answers…But, I think that we can all agree that a good life is possible no matter if you live in the city or the country.

A couple of years ago, as I was driving across north central Nebraska to watch my daughter play in a high school basketball game, it occurred to me that the rural vs urban lifestyle for people could be compared to the settings in which cattle are raised. While all cattle begin their lives living on the home ranch (which would be comparable to my life in rural Nebraska), at least half of them – after they are grown up – will spend a shorter period of time in a feedlot (where their living space is more comparable to New York City).

Let's take a look at a few numbers to put it into pespective:


The University of Nebraska rangeland scientists recommend a stocking density (the number of cattle grazing per acre of grass) in the Nebraska Sandhills of 0.75 cattle per acre. We can take this to generally mean that on a home ranch in Nebraska, there are approximately 480 bovines per square mile as 1 square mile = 640 acres.

Windmill Feeders, one of our feedlots in Nebraska, houses 10,000 animals on 300 acres which converts to 21,333 animals per square mile. During the time that cattle live at Windmill, feed from neighboring farms is brought in to give to the animals three times per day instead of them grazing grass as they did earlier in life on the ranch. 


– According to the July 2016 US Census Bureau estimate:

New York City spans 304.6 square miles and is home to 8,537,673 people which converts to 27,000 people per square mile.

Manhattan (a borough of New York) spans 22.8 square miles and is home to 1,585,873 people which converts to 69,495 people per square mile.

So what does this mean? It means that cattle living in Windmill Feeders (a feedlot in Nebraska) live in a less crowded space than either New York City or its borough of Manhattan.

Why is this important? I think that viewing things relationally allows for us to broaden our perspective. Many, many people live in or have visited Manhattan, New York; however, very few have ever set foot in a feedlot like Windmill. Realizing that the cattle that call Windmill Feeders home have more space than the people living in Manhattan gives you a different perspective about life in a feedlot.

This month, we are going to explore the concept of “comfort” and “space” in a cattle feedlot through video, pictures and an infographic.

Stay tuned to learn more as well as to get to know the people that grow your beef just a little bit better!

Previous: The Symbiotic Nature of Giving... Next: Spending time with Dr. Kip Lukasiewicz to learn about cattle health and antibiotic use.
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Innovative Livestock Services, Inc.

Innovative Livestock Services

2006 Broadway Avenue
Great Bend, KS 67530

(620) 793-9200

4805 Vue du Lac
Manhattan, KS 66503

(785) 587-9700

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