Beef Cattle

Cattle are raised in every state of the U.S., including Indiana, which is home to more than 800,000 cows and cattle. The average sized cattle herd on a U.S. farm is 40 head. More than 50 percent of cattle grown in the U.S. come from the top five cattle producing states: Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, California and Oklahoma.

Beef is meat from full-grown cattle. It takes about 2 years for cattle to be full-grown. Cuts of beef include steaks, roasts, brisket, hamburger and others. A live steer weighs about 1,000 pounds and yields about 450 pounds of edible meat. There are at least 50 breeds of beef cattle, but fewer than 10 make up most cattle produced. Beef is an important part of our diet. It is a good source of zinc, iron and protein; these nutrients help keep our body healthy and growing.

We get more than meat from beef cattle. Hundreds of different byproducts come from the animals. Byproducts are non-food items like paint, candles, crayons, leather, glue, insulin for diabetics and so on. Basically, anything that has one or more ingredient from an animal or crop is a byproduct. Because of byproducts, we are able to use 99 percent of every steer.


  • Beef Cattle Vocabulary:

    • Beef: the meat that comes from beef cattle. Hamburger, steak and brisket are some examples of beef.
    • Bovine: of or relating to the subfamily Bovinae, which includes cattle.
    • Bull: a male cow used for breeding.
    • Branding: process used to identify cattle.
    • Byproducts: all products, except for beef, that come from beef cattle.
    • Calf: cattle less than one year old.
    • Cow: a female cow that has given birth to a calf.
    • Heifer: a female cow that has not produced a calf.
    • Hide: animal skin treated for human use, such as leather from cattle.
    • Iron: a mineral needed by our bodies to carry many essential functions. Beef is a great source of iron.
    • Protein: is in every living cell in our bodies and is necessary for the growth of healthy muscles, organs, skin and hair.
    • Ruminant: animals, such as cattle, that have multiple compartments in their stomach. They first chew their food to soften it, swallow it and then return it to their mouth for continued chewing. This is called chewing the cud.
    • Silage: fermented corn, wheat or hay, along with the stalks and leaves, which is chopped and fed to cattle.
    • Steer: a male cow not used for breeding.
    • Zinc: a mineral used for growth and fighting off illnesses.

  • Beef Cattle Facts:

    • When a calf is born, it weighs about 60-100 pounds. Over the next few months, each calf will live off its mother’s milk and graze on grass.
    • Calves are weaned from their mother’s milk at about 6-10 months of age, when they weigh between 450-700 pounds. These calves continue to graze.
    • It takes anywhere from 2-3 years to bring beef from farm to fork.
    • Cattle drink about a bathtub full of water and eat 40 pounds of feed daily.
    • Cattle can weigh between 1,200-1,400 pounds at market weight.
    • Cattle produce hundreds of byproducts such as soaps, lotions, leather for clothes and shoes, candy, marshmallows, glue and fertilizer. About 99 percent of the animal is used for food or for non-food products.
    • More than 100 medicines come from cattle, including insulin and estrogen.
    • One cowhide can be made into 144 baseballs, 20 footballs, 18 soccer balls, 18 volleyballs, or 12 basketballs.

    Indiana Beef Facts:

    • Indiana ranks 34th in beef cattle raised and 22nd in number of beef cattle farms.
    • Washington County has the most beef cattle, with 9,100 head of animals.
  • Animal Care Facts:

    Livestock farmers work hard each day to make sure that the animals in their herds are well taken care of. The animal’s health is the top priority to beef cattle farmers. Nutritious diets, safe living conditions and good medical care are essential. Beef cattle are raised on farms or ranches.

    Cattle raised on ranches graze on the range, and cattle raised on farms graze on pasture. Western U.S. ranches can be very large and consist of a few thousand to tens of thousands of acres. Farmers & ranchers in western states, like Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, California and Oklahoma, generally raise their herds on ranches, because the soils in those states are not able to grow row crops and make a profit for their farm.

  • Questions & Answers:

    Q: Why do you sell steers?

    A: Steers are male cattle that can’t be used for breeding. Their purpose is to produce meat.

    Q: Can you get milk from beef cattle?

    A: You can milk any cow (beef or dairy) but the yield will be lower on beef cattle. If the calf is with the mother, it will consume most, if not all, of the milk.


Common Breeds


Angus are a breed of cattle commonly used in beef production.


Hereford is a beef cattle breed, widely used both in extreme and temperate climates, mainly for meat production.


Charolais are a beef breed of cattle (Bos taurus) which originated in Charolais in France.


Limousin are a breed of highly muscled beef cattle, originating from the Limousin and Marche regions of France.


Shorthorn are colored red, white or roan – which is brown dappled with gray or white. Roan cattle are preferred by some and completely white animals are not common.

For more photos and info on the various breeds of cattle: or