Livestock production in Kansas is based largely on the availability of natural grass pastures and rangeland and feed crops. Beef cattle are raised throughout the state, but beef-cattle production is concentrated in the Flint Hills, in the Smoky Hills, and other hilly grassland areas in the Plains Border and Osage Plains sections. The bluestem grasses of the Flint Hills provide excellent grazing lands. Beef cattle, including both local herds and cattle shipped in from other states, are grazed in the Flint Hills throughout the year. The cattle are then either sent directly to market or are fattened further on grain in the Flint Hills area, in the irrigated areas of western Kansas, or elsewhere. Hogs, as well as beef cattle, are raised in northeastern Kansas. Dairy cattle and poultry are raised in the eastern part of the state, especially in the vicinity of the larger cities. Sheep are also raised, primarily in central and southwestern Kansas, on grazing lands and in feedlots.
Operators of the farms in Kansas use machinery to cultivate extensive areas without the need for a large labor force. The average Kansas farm covered 285 hectares (705 acres) in 2008. In the wheatlands of the High Plains, farms of more than 400 hectares (1,000 acres) are common. Farms in the northeast average between 80 and 120 hectares (200 and 300 acres).
Farming practices in the Dissected Till Plains section of northeastern Kansas are similar to those of other areas within the great Corn Belt in the Middle West. Cattle and hogs are the principal source of income, and corn and other field crops are raised both for livestock feed and for sale as cash crops. This pattern is also prevalent in the eastern part of the Osage Plains section. However, the land in this area is not as productive. The raising of livestock predominates in the Flint Hills, although there is also some cropland in the area on which wheat, corn, and alfalfa are grown.
On the Great Plains, in central and western Kansas, wheat is the dominant dryland crop. Sorghum and cattle also are important. The widespread adoption of irrigation in far western Kansas, using water pumped from underground from the High Plains Aquifer, has altered the traditional mixture of crops there radically since the early 1970s. Corn and alfalfa are the major crops irrigated. More corn is now grown in western Kansas than in the east. "Kansas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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