Washington Cattle Feeders

Washington is home to a small community of professional cattle feedyards. While the number of businesses and cattle represented by this sector are modest (especially in comparison to top producing states), the economic and social impacts locally are strong. Cattle feeding is an integral part of Washington's agriculture and food production web. Feedyards are positioned near to food processing infrastructure, whereby cattle consume byproducts, and prevent waste in the production of other food and beverages that begin with locally grown commodities and specialty crops.

These cattle feedyards support hundreds of Washington cow-calf operations (ranches where calves ready to be fed come from). Washington's economy and local food system benefit from cattle feedyards and processing plants operating here. Two significant beef processing facilities are located in eastern Washington in close proximity to the majority of cattle feedyards. The combination of having all three specialized sectors of beef production - ranches, feedyards, and major processing facilities, makes cattle the third largest agriculture commodity in terms of state GDP.

Washington State University conducted an economic analysis report in 2014 and 2019, to quantify the economic impact of beef production in Washington. Access the Executive Summary and the Full Report to learn more. See some statistics from the report at a glance:

Approx. 500,000

Cattle marketed by Washington's cattle feeders annually.

Approx. 20-30

Independent feed yards operate in Washington state.


Ranking in feeding capacity at about 230,000 head.


Direct feedyard jobs, 2,826 total jobs supplied to the economy.


WA beef community jobs supplied to the economy  from 2014 - 2019.

$527 Billion

Direct economic output of Washington's cattle feedyards.

$1.156 Billion

Total economic impact of Washington cattle feeders.

$4.685 Billion

Total annual economic impact of Washington's beef industry.