Have you ever visited a cattle ranch? A feed yard? Did you know that ALL beef cattle spend about half their life with their mothers, eating grass? Get a better understanding of how beef is raised through the stories of a few of the roughly 9,000 family farmers and ranchers who raise beef here in Washington.

The Ranch

A rancher will tell you that raising beef cattle is equal parts caring for their cattle and caring for the grass they rely upon to graze those cattle. 

"The health of the land and health of cattle go hand in hand," says Justin Waddington, a Yakima area rancher. Did you know? A mother cow can live on a ranch and raise calves to produce beef for sometimes over a decade? The care that goes into those pastures and those cows is what sustains Justin's family. 

Learn more about ranching...

The Feedyard

Beef cattle may change farms 1-2 times, depending on the resources and decisions of individual farmers and ranchers. Typically, after a calf has been raised by it's mother and weaned at around 500 lbs. or larger, a feedyard is where most cattle in the U.S. will spend the last few months of growth. 

For the time cattle spend at Camas Uebelacker's feedyard, they are fed a balanced diet of forage and grains, mostly grown and harvested by Camas within a two mile radius.

Learn more about cattle feeding...

The Packing Plant

Renowned animal care expert Dr. Temple Grandin has said, "I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we've got to do it right. We've got to give those animals a decent life and we've got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect."

AMEN. Ranchers, feeders, and beef companies couldn't agree more. Which is why Dr. Grandin has consulted on the design and improvements to beef processing facilities and employee training at slaughter facilities across the country. Animal, worker, and ultimately beef safety is the core mission at this stage. Consultation with experts, ongoing investments in safety research, and the focus on providing people safe, high quality food at the end of the day is what you'd see "if slaughterhouses had glass walls." 

This isn't everyone's favorite step in the process to think about, but the benefits to having modern slaughter facilities in our state are significant. From cattle having to spend less time in trucks, to thousands of farmers and ranchers having local marketing opportunities, to the hundreds of jobs created in their local communities, these businesses are vital to Washington's economy.

Beef Processing

Meet Jesse

Jesse Castaneda is the general manager of the Washington Beef slaughter facility in Toppenish, Wash. He knows a lot about how to produce safe, delicious beef.

WARNING: Beef processing is an essential step of the process, and it's hard work. But if you think people who work at a slaughter facility are miserable or unhappy and have no other options, this video may challenge some of your perceptions.

Dive Deeper

Beef FAQs

Looking for local beef facts and figures? You've got questions, we've got answers! Wondering how many ranches are there in Washington? Are there slaughter facilities? Feed your curiosity by learning more about how beef is raised in our state. 

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