Meats

Live cattle

The United States is the largest producer and consumer of beef. Just as the chicken starts with the egg, the steak starts with the cow/calf operation. This is a breeding operation that uses grazing land, cows, and a small number of bulls to produce calves. Calves spend their first six months of life with their mothers, at which time they are weaned. Some are placed in feedlots immediately, but the majority pass through an intermediate stage called backgrounding (also termed a “stocker” operation). Backgrounders place weaned cattle on summer grass, winter wheat, or some type of roughage. This phase of the calf's life might last from 6 to 10 months or until the animal reaches a desirable feedlot weight of 600 to 800 pounds. After ...

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