Beef’s Sustainability Story

What is sustainable beef?

Defining sustainable beef is challenging because it means different things to different stakeholders. We define sustainable beef as beef that is environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and economically viable. Sustainable beef is holistic; it thoughtfully balances each of these pillars while meeting the growing global demand for beef.

From Pasture to Plate


Cattle production begins on the ranch, where calves are born. Calves spend time with their mothers and begin grazing on grass pastures. When calves are six to eight months of age, they are weaned from their mothers. Cattle continue to grow, gaining weight by converting forage and grass into lean protein. While it is common for calves to stay on their original ranch to continue growing, many calves travel to stockers and backgrounders between six to twelve months of age to continue this growth.

Livestock Auction Markets

Auction markets facilitate the sale of calves to stockers and backgrounders.


Mature cattle that are not grass finished spend four to six months at a feedyard under the care of veterinarians, nutritionists, and trained livestock handlers. Here, they are fed a carefully balanced diet made up of grains, grasses, and renewable feedstuffs.

Packing and Processing Plants

Cattle are sent to a packing plant and processing facility to be harvested, processed, packaged, and distributed to retail and foodservice companies.

Retail and Foodservice

Retail and foodservice companies including grocery stores, mass merchandisers, hotels, restaurants, and others, provide beef to consumers.