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Farming and Agriculture

Oregon's Cattle Industry

"Cattle outnumber people in southeast Oregon." -- Bob Rost

The livestock industry, particularly beef, dominates southern and portions of eastern Oregon especially Malheur, Morrow, Harney, Klamath and Lake counties. Most of Oregon's cattle graze here, on the thousands of acres of private and federal rangeland. Cattle production is the top agricultural activity in eastern Oregion. With an estimated production value of $493 million, cattle and calves ranked as Oregon's second highest agricultural commodity in 2010.

In addition to grazing, feedlot finishing has become more prevalent in Oregon in those areas with limited rangeland. After weaning, calves are sent to feedlots for approximately 120 days where they are fed a high-energy ration of grain and hay. After this time called finishing, the cattle are sent to a harvest plant.

Moving a herd of cattle through the high desert

Moving a herd of cattle through the high desert (OSU EESC)

Oregon ranchers have a longstanding respect for their land and work toward implementing practices to maintain the environment for long-term cattle production. In the mid-1980's, like-minded ranchers banded together to form Oregon Country Beef cooperative which emphasizes thoughtful stewardship of the land and has enabled them to brand their beef as a specialized "natural" commodity.


Bob Rost. OSU's Home on the Range, Oregon's Agricultural Progress, Fall 2003.

Joe Marks. The Willows are Back, Oregon's Agricultural Progress, Fall 1996.

Fact Sheet: Feedlot Finishing Cattle. Beef USA.

Beef Production resources, OSU Extension Service. Small Farms.

Beef Cattle Sciences, Oregon State University.