Friday, August 19, 2011

Fun Fact Friday: The life cycle

Did you know beef cattle are raised and cared for in 3 different phases, each targeting a specific stage of their life cycle?

Calves are born on cow-calf operations. On these ranches, cattlemen are in the business to breed and raise cattle. As the calves grow, the rancher will decide which animals will become market animals and which ones will be kept as replacements (go back into the herd to be bred). Once weaned, many calves intended for market will be sold or moved to a stocker operation.

Stocker and backgrounding operations are where calves are grown out and prepared for the feedlot. Here, weanlings graze on grass and may start eating some grain to supplement their diets. Once, they reach 12- to 18- months of age, they are sold or moved to a feedlot.

Feedlots are where market cattle enter their final growing stage. In the feedlot, cattle are grouped with penmates of similar size. They eat a carefully-calculated ration and put on the fat or finish required to produce desirable meat.

In each of these phases, cattle are raised by men and women who believe giving animals the care, handling and nutrition they deserve is an obligation, not an option. They take their job — contributing product to the world’s safest and most abundant food supply — very seriously.

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