Beef cattle were routinely finished locally in Kentucky and other parts of the upper south before the 1950s, primarily on pasture with some grain or by-products from distilleries and grain processing mills. Cattle were typically born, raised, and finished on the same farm then sent to a local butcher where the meat was sold in nearby communities and cities. After the Second World War grain and transportation costs decreased dramatically and supermarket chains that required a large, steady supply channel were established. The combined effect of these changes made finishing in large centralized locations more economical. Over the next couple of decades the finishing industry consolidated, and feedlots sprang up across the Great Plains to finish the bulk of the nation’s cattle.
Halich, Gregory S.; Lehmkuhler, Jeff; Rentfrow, Gregg; Martz, Fred; Smith, S. Ray; and Meyer, Lee, "Producer’s Guide to Pasture-Based Beef Finishing" (2015). Agriculture and Natural Resources Publications. 108.