In Nebraska, we get a lot of questions about raising beef cattle. And more than ever before, consumers have a lot of questions about their food and beef is no exception. One question is, “Why are cattle grown in feedlots rather than green pastures?” Good question – here is what we have to say about that:

joan's feed yard - showing the space each cow hasMost all beef cattle, whether raised conventionally or organically, spend the majority of their lives in pastures eating grass. Calves start grazing at a young age and are kept on pasture after they are weaned until 12-18 months of age. Then, they are taken to a feedlot or are kept on grass to become “grass-finished”. Feedlots allow ranchers to raise beef more efficiently with fewer natural resources like land, feed and water. In North America it’s difficult to produce grass-fed beef in large due to limited growing seasons. That’s why most grass-finished beef is imported from Australia and New Zealand where grass grows all year. 

Feedlot cattle live in fenced areas that give them plenty of food, fresh water and room to move around. Veterinarians, nutritionists and cattlemen work together to look after each animal every day.

Read more about life on a beef feedlot from CommonGround Nebraska volunteer, Joan Ruskamp here.


Hash Brown Shepherd’s Pie Casserole



3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 large carrots, sliced


Fresh ground pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 pound lean ground beef

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup dark beer, broth or wine

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup water

3/4 cup frozen peas

1/2 bag shredded hash browns



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat.

  3. Add onion and carrots and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

  4. Season with salt and pepper and stir in tomato paste.

  5. Add the ground meat and cook until browned.

  6. Add thyme and beer, broth or wine and bring to a boil.

  7. Cook, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.

  8. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons flour over mixture and stir to combine. Add 1 cup water and cook until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes.

  9. Stir in peas and season with salt and pepper.

  10. Transfer mixture to a baking dish.

  11. Break up hash browns and cover shepherd’s pie with them.

  12. Season hash browns with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of butter.

  13. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, until hash browns are golden brown. (You may need to turn on the broiler for the last few minutes of cooking to completely brown the hash browns. Alternately, you can saute the hash browns lightly before adding them to the shepherd’s pie and baking.)



Note: Adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food


CommonGround is a farmer-driven, volunteer program created to clear up misconceptions and enhance the trust and awareness among urban consumers for today’s agriculture. CommonGround serves as a partnership between the nation’s soybean and corn checkoffs. To learn more about CommonGround, visit, and learn more about the farm women involved in CommonGround Nebraska at