does beef come from a cow

Typically, beef cattle eat a combination of grasses and grains, with more of an emphasis on grass, especially when they’re young. Beef cows produce milk, but only enough to feed their calves — about one to two gallons per day. Heifers, steers and cows are all used to produce meat.

Ranchers take the responsibility of providing beef for our country seriously. They view their cattle and the land they graze on as their livelihood as well as their legacy to share with future generations. If you’ve ever wondered where American beef comes from, you’re in the right place. We’re going to take a look at the farming process, and how today’s cattle ranchers are using modern technology to continue the tradition of quality beef for America.

Beef farmers are generally down-to-earth people, with small herds. According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, as reported by Beef Magazine, only nine percent of beef cattle operations have herds of 100 animals or more, representing 51 percent of the total U.S. beef inventory. In other words, huge farms are the minority.

The Steer’s Life Cycle

When calves are born, farmers know the importance of keeping it with its mother. Most calves spend the first several months with the mama until they’re weaned at about six to ten months of age. Calves are usually born onto small operations, like the kind of herds you see along the highway or country roads.

After a calf has been weaned, they’re usually transferred to a feedlot. During that time they’re monitored carefully to be sure they have everything they need to grow into a healthy steer. That includes plenty of freshwaters, and a balanced diet of grain, vitamins and mineral supplements. A steer is considered finished when it reaches 18 to 22 months of age, and it’s at this time that the steer is brought to a slaughterhouse.

Cattle processing edit

A steer that weighs 1,000 lb (450 kg) when alive makes a carcass weighing approximately 615 lb (280 kg) once the blood, head, feet, skin, offal and guts are removed. The carcass is then hung in a cold room for between one and four weeks, during which time it loses some weight as water dries from the meat. It is then deboned and cut by a butcher or packing house, with the finished carcass resulting in approximately 430 lb (200 kg) of beef.[18] Depending on what cuts of meat are desired, there is a scale of marbled meat used to determine the quality. Marbling is the fat that is within the muscle, not around it. The more marbled a cut is, the higher it will grade and be worth.[19]

Slaughtering of livestock has three distinct stages: preslaughter handling, stunning, and slaughtering. The biggest concern is preslaughter handling: how the animal is treated before it is stunned and slaughtered. Stress at this time can cause adverse effects on the meat, but water access and lower stocking densities have been allowed to minimize this. However, access to feed is restricted for 12–24 hours prior to slaughtering for ease of evisceration. Stunning is done when the animal is restrained in a chute so movement is limited. Once restrained the animal can be stunned in one of three methods: penetrating captive bolt, non-penetrating captive bolt, and gunshot. Most abattoirs use captive bolts instead of guns. Stunning ensures the animal feels no pain during slaughtering and reduces the animals stress, therefore increasing the quality of meat. The final step is slaughtering. Typically the animal will be hung by its back leg and its throat will be slit to allow exsanguination. The hide will be removed for further processing at this point and the animal will be broken down with evisceration and decapitation. The carcass will be placed in a cooler for 24–48 hours prior to the meat being cut.[20]

Where Does our Beef Come From?

Cattle are raised all over the United States, but the largest percentage of beef comes from the Midwest. The top states for the beef industry are Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, California, Wisconsin, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

Cattle ranchers are people, just like you and I, trying their hardest to make it in a difficult industry. Such as Linda and Jim Link of Link Beef Farm, that was featured in Wisconsin State Farmer. The Links started their commercial herd in 1995. “I had been working with cattle for a long time and love animals, so we began the beef operation,” Jim said. “The 100-acre farm we’re on was actually one of the five dairy farms my dad owned years ago. It had been out of our family ownership for some years and we bought it from another owner.” The Links continue to explain how they expanded over the years until they reached their current 60 steer operation. “We keep the calves six to nine months then sell them at the Bloomington Livestock Exchange.”

Most cattle farmers today, like the Links, are following in the footsteps of their family before them. Farming is a business passed down from generation to generation, and they understand the importance of maintaining healthy land and good farming practices.

Typically, beef cattle eat a combination of grasses and grains, with more of an emphasis on grass, especially when they’re young. Beef cows produce milk, but only enough to feed their calves — about one to two gallons per day. Heifers, steers and cows are all used to produce meat.


Does beef come from cows or bulls?

Young bulls, steers (castrated bulls) and heifers (young females) can all be used in beef production. They’re slaughtered at different ages and weights depending on what the buyers want.

What animal does beef comes from?

Meat Name
Cattle (cow or bull)
Calf (young cow)

Is beef a cow or not?

The meat of mature or almost mature cattle is mostly known as beef. In beef production there are three main stages: cow-calf operations, backgrounding, and feedlot operations. The production cycle of the animals starts at cow-calf operations; this operation is designed specifically to breed cows for their offspring.

Why is beef not a cow?

Etymology. The word beef is from the Latin word bōs, in contrast to cow which is from Middle English cou (both words have the same Indo-European root *gʷou-). After the Norman Conquest, the French-speaking nobles who ruled England naturally used French words to refer to the meats they were served.

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