FoA 236: A Call for Startups to the Cattle Feeding Industry

One of the biggest criticisms of ag tech and really many ag innovations in general is they often seem to be a solution that is looking for a problem rather than the alternative. This mismatch is often doomed to fail leaving many ag entrepreneurs frustrated. The Beef Alliance is trying to change that in the cattle feeding industry through their program called Feeding Innovation, a Beef Alliance Startup Challenge. The Beef Alliance wants smart entrepreneurial, problem solvers to see real potential opportunity and apply their talents to the cattle feeding industry. They're putting up $50,000 in the form of a cash prize and the chance at a pilot project to the winning startup of the competition. So even for startups that don't win that top prize and chance to pilot, it's still an opportunity to engage with leaders throughout the cattle feeding industry who could end up potentially becoming customers and investors.

**Learn more about the startup challenge: https://beefalliance.com/startupchallenge/

The Beef Alliance is an organization of innovative, progressive, and relevant cattle feeding companies through collaborative innovation, scientific exploration, and value chain engagement. They are committed to being a leader and catalyst for positive change in the beef supply chain. Today we are joined by Dr. Abram Babcock, who is the CEO of Adams Land and Cattle in Broken Bow, Nebraska and John Wilson, a fifth generation Oregon cattleman and managing partner of several cattle related businesses. Both men clearly have extensive experience in the cattle feeding industry and share their perspectives of new innovations.


“If I look at it back in the early nineties and I look at it today, I would say that our industry has definitely adapted to listening to the consumer, as opposed to telling the consumer what we wanted them to hear or what we wanted them to eat. That would probably be at the top of my list.” - John Wilson


Dr. Babcock goes on to reference different management techniques, pharmaceutical protocols, and feeding practices all as a response to consumer demands.  John highlights advances in sensors and therefore different use and evaluation of individual metrics to better support sustainability practices like water usage and electricity usage. 


“I think there is going to be an ability for our industry to really start to tell our story with data in a very cost-effective efficient manner where, you know, 10 years ago, some of these metrics would be very hard or very expensive to collect on a daily basis.” - Dr. Abram Babcock


Both John and Dr. Babcock ask innovators to keep in mind that cattle are living beings that are affected by health, weather and production system techniques. Their production is not as simple as creating a formula and producing a consistent product. While that seems obvious it is often overlooked by those not familiar with the industry. Labor efficiency, automation and improvement of feed conversion are all sectors that they highlight are in need of innovation in the industry. 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet John Wilson and Dr. Abram Babcock, both experienced cattlemen that join us today to share what innovation has done and hopefully will do in the cattle feeding industry
  • Learn about the technology that most interests these two experts
  • Explore what innovators can focus on to support the cattle feeding industry’s efforts 

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We’re nearing the end of 2020 and I’m planning my 2021 content. Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com. 

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Tim Hammerich

I share stories about agriculture, agtech, and agribusiness on podcasts and radio.