Beef cattle are raised for their meat. Cattle farms are very
important to the world. We get veal, beef, hamburger, and hot
dogs from beef cattle. Veal comes from calves and beef comes
from older cattle. We also get leather, glue, soap, and
medicine from them.
Cattle are raised all over the world. In India, people think
cattle are holy so they aren't killed or eaten there. Some
kinds of beef cattle are Aberdeen, Angus, Brahman, Charolais,
Herefords, and Polled Herefords. Farmers pick which breed
they want to raise by the climate where they live. For
example, some cattle can be raised in areas where there isn't too
Male cattle are called bulls and females are
called cows. Steers are males who cannot reproduce.
Young cows are called heifers until they have babies. Then
they are called dams. The father is called a sire and the baby
is a calf.
Most cattle are registered. When an animal
is registered, their ancestors are traced and written down.
This is stored by an organization that keeps track of breeding
information. Cattle get an ear tag when they are
registered. The ancestors of animals are important when
farmers do selective breeding.
Cattle are usually kept in pastures
where they eat the grass. When cattle eat, they swallow and
then bring the food back up into their mouths to chew again.
This is called cud. Ranchers [Cattle farmers] know how many
cattle can be kept in the pasture before all the grass will be gone.
Calves are born in the spring. They are
watched carefully and given shots so they don't get diseases.
They get branded with a mark
that shows a ranch symbol. If the cattle wander away from the
ranch, this shows people where they belong.
Later in spring the herds are moved to different
pastures so that the grass can grow back again. Ranchers put
out salt licks with minerals in them. These are solid blocks
of salt [with minerals] that cattle like to lick. Farmers will
move the herds every three or four weeks.
Just like in cowboy movies, ranchers use horses
to herd the cattle from one pasture to another. Some ranchers
use four-wheel drive vehicles.
In fall, the herds will be moved closer to the
farm house. These pastures will be ones that were used in the
early spring and will have grown grass again. Beef cattle are
usually sold then. If cattle are kept over the winter, they go
to smaller pastures nearer to the house. This is so that the
rancher does not have to go so far to check on them when it gets
cold. The ranchers will have to feed them when it snows.
Beef cattle are cheaper to raise than dairy
cattle because they mostly eat grass. Dairy farmers need to
pay people to help them grow crops to feed their cows and they buy protein
to add to the food. This makes them cost more
Calves can be sold to other farmers who raise
them in a penned area. They are fed special food so that they
fatten up quickly. It takes between four to eight months
before the calves are ready for the meat-packing plant. A
steer is ready to be sold when it is about one and a half years
old. Ranchers try to sell them at a time that they can get the
most money for them. The animals can be sold to someone
who will fatten them up for market or right to a meat-processing
to Livestock page