At University of Nebraska—Lincoln we are committed to the success of the beef industry in Nebraska and beyond. Our goal is to help beef producers continue to improve their productivity, efficiency, environmental and economic impacts. That spans our research, education, Extension and employment segments. UNL's beef program isn't just about cows; we take a systems approach to our research and education, trying to see how the bigger picture is affected by the things we learn and recommend. 

And in Nebraska, beef is a pretty big picture. 

Beef in Nebraska

Nebraska historically has been known as the Beef State. Beef production is foundational to the agricultural economy of Nebraska. focuses on providing research based information and resources to beef producers to help them provide an economical, wholesome, quality product to consumers while protecting and preserving Nebraska's vast natural resources.

The unbiased, research-based information is designed to provide you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions related to beef production.

The following are facts about beef production in Nebraska and the role it plays in our economy.

Cows in a pasture

Nebraska Beef Facts

  • $12.1 billion impact to Nebraska's Economy
  • 20,000 beef cow operations
  • 1.88 million head of beef cows
  • The average herd size is 94 head
  • 4,570 cattle feeding operations statewide
  • 5.1 million cattle fed and marketed per year
  • On average there are 2.3 million head of cattle on feed
Map of top cow counties in the nation
Top cattle production counties in Nebraska

Nebraska has the Top Cow Counties in the Nation

Nebraska has the top three beef cow counties in the U.S., including the nation's No. 1 cow county – Cherry County, with nearly 166,000 cows. Custer County is No. 2 (100,000) and Holt County is No. 3 (99,000). Also among the top counties is Lincoln County at No. 12 (69,000).

Cows in a pasture

Why so much Beef in Nebraska?

Nebraska has a unique mix of natural resources. Cattle turn grass from 24 million acres of rangeland and pasture, more than one half of Nebraska's land mass, into protein and many other products for humans. The land grazed by cattle allows more people to be fed than would otherwise be possible. More than one billion bushels of corn are produced here each year, 40% of which is fed to livestock in the state. Cattle producing families, who make their living from the land, have a strong incentive to protect their animals and the environment.