What the heck is a CAB-licensed feedlot anyway?

I’ll admit it. Some myths are of our own making. We throw around terms like “CAB-licensed” when talking about everything from restaurants to packers to feedlots.

So what exactly does that mean? Well, various things on various levels. Ultra-simplified, it’s a close working relationship with the Certified Angus Beef ® brand. It is the right to advertise and sell CAB burgers or stamp carcasses as accepted. When it comes to the feedlot sector, I can tell you what it doesn’t mean, as I debunk this puzzler:

Myth—Cattle must be fed at a “CAB feedlot” to qualify for the brand.

Fact—For cattle to be evaluated for the CAB brand, they simply need to be marketed to a licensed packer. Good news: that includes 85% of the North American packing base. All the “big” packers, like JBS, Tyson, Cargill and National Beef are on that list, so it would be more likely that you bring cattle to a CAB licensee than not.

It doesn’t matter if those cattle were at the largest feedyard in the United States or home-raised with 19 other pen mates. As long as they enter one of those packing plants, they’ll first be evaluated for the live-animal specification and, if they pass that,they’ll be railed off for carcass assessment in the cooler the next day.

So, that clears up the myth, but might still leave you wondering….then what the heck is a CAB-licensed feedlot?

Right now 68 feedyards in 16 states make up the Feedlot Licensing Program, a network of partners that work closely with the CAB supply development team. They manage cattle for a quality endpoint and aim to work with cow-calf producers to improve their herds. To that end, they share data with customers and with CAB.

What’s in it for them? Let me share a few comments.  

Here’s Jerry Bohn, from Pratt Feeders in Kansas.

Jerry Bohn, Pratt Feeders

He licensed the yard in 2003 because: “Our staff and our company want to be known as a feeder of high-quality cattle. They work really hard to get good cattle, get them into our system and then get the information back to the owner—CAB helps us do that—so they can digest and use that information to make changes in their operations, which in turn will be better for us and the consumer.”

 Pratt is a 40,000-head yard, but feeders of any size can participate in these beef improvement strategies.

 Mike Hora, of Hora Prime Beef, near Washington, Iowa, has a commercial Angus cowherd and operates a 500-head feedlot.

Mike Hora, Hora Prime Beef, working calves

“Being licensed is an impetus for me to do better. It has spurred me to better genetics and better feeding.”

 Our team views our relationship with partner yards much the same way. They inspire us to do more, ask better questions and find answers. They help us keep a pulse on the feeding industry. And, perhaps most importantly, they give us a great starting point when producers call our office and say, “I am thinking about feeding cattle. What next?”

I dusted off this 2007 news release, “What it takes to be a CAB-licensed feedlot?” that explains it in more depth. The numbers are the only thing out-of-date, but the mission of the feedlot program has been the same since its creation more than a decade ago.

Still have questions? Don’t be shy. Chances are somebody else is wondering the same thing, so comment away!

May your bottom line be filled with black ink,


blackinkmiranda Visit Website
I love God, my kids, my hubby, rural life, agriculture and working for CAB. I’m officially the director of producer communications, which basically means I get to learn from lots of smart people and pass that information along to lots of other smart people: you. I’m so lucky to work with cattle producers and other folks in this great industry. (Oh, and one more job perk? I get to eat lots of really yummy beef.)
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