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Beef Cattle Production and Management

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Robert is Agribusiness Consultant who studied Agribusiness Management

Beef Cattle Production

Beef Cattle Production

Beef Cattle Production

In agribusiness, we can not talk about profitable animal farming without talking about beef cattle. Research has shown that the beef industry is one of the second largest industry when it comes to animal production. This is the case as a lot of people in different countries are able to consume beef meat almost every day. Beef cattle are kept mainly for meat and may also be kept for feedstock purposes (also called animal breeding). This article will provide in detail on the management in beef production which will help you to be more efficient in beef production.

Beef Cattle Production Systems

Three production systems are available as follows;

  1. Cow-calf beef cattle production system, which is used mainly to produce calves for marketing purposes.
  2. Purebred breeding beef cattle production system, which is used to produce bulls (male animals) which are used for the operation of cow calf.
  3. Slaughter beef cattle production system, which is used to fatten cows calf for slaughter.

Purchasing and Selecting Stock

A beef cattle farmer is supposed to make an important decision about a type of beef operation which he/she must undertake as there are two types of them. The farmer can operate a cow calf farm which mainly focuses on breeding and raising calf until they reach certain stage (weaning stage) or the farmer can decide to take a finish operation farm system which aims at fattening and slaughter beefs for sales. A farmer buys a weaned heifer or a steer. However, some beef cattle farmers are able to operate successfully a combination of the two.

Key point to take note as beef cattle (Heifer/Steer) farmer

  1. Heifers are slow growers but are able to fatten quickly than steers.
  2. Heifers beef cattle are active more than steers. Make sure you provide more energy to them.
  3. Chances are so high that a heifer could become pregnant.
  4. Heifer calves are cheaper than steers in most cases.
  5. Heifer calves are mostly used for breeding stock.

Crossbred or Purebred of Beef Cattle?

A beef cattle farmer has also to make another important decision when it comes to breeding his cattle as two options are available which are; crossing breeding (also called a mixture of breeding) or pure breeding (also called single breeding) and each of them has advantages and disadvantages. The common difference between the two is that in pure breed has same parent breed while cross breeding has a mixture of parents having different characteristics which a calf may inherit. Most cross bred are known to have hybrid vigour and could perform better.

Places For Buying Beef Cattles

The next important decision which a beef cattle farmer has to make is where to buy or purchase his cattle as two options are available. The farmer can purchase his cattle at auction or by buying them from a private seller and each of these has advantages and disadvantages. Make sure you acquire more information about the past activities or the performance of the cattle which you are buying in either of the available options for buying.


As a farmer, make sure that any beef cattle you are buying for breeding purpose has certain desirable characteristics which must be meant. One of the characteristics is that the body size (shape) of the animal which you are buying should have a body which is well distributed in size and is well shaped. Under this conformation we focus much on body frame size, muscling, volume and performances among others. Make sure these qualities are well checked before you make an important decision to purchase any cattle for breeding.

Beef Breeds

When it comes to selecting beef breeds make sure you consider certain characteristics and purpose of keeping your beef or type of farm operation which you want to venture in as some beef are bred for them to have more carcases while others have different priorities. The following are Beef Breeds for Cattle:


This beef breed is known to endure harsh weather conditions and has potential to weight up to 1,045 kg for a bull and 568 kg (1,252 lbs) for a cattle. This breed is able to give an average milk yield of 1,820 kg. This breed is also known with early maturity and high carcass yield.


This breed is commonly recognized by their medium to large body frame size and most of them have white coat or white to cream coat. Under good management a bull weights an average of 1,136 kg, while a cow could weight an average of 727 kg. Charolais produces an average milk yield of 1,818 kg.

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This breed is known by its red colour and medium frame body size and has potential to weight an average of 1,045 kg for the bull and an average weight of 682 kg for the cow. This breed gives an average milk of 1,588 kg.


This breed commonly recognized for their reddish gold colour and medium framed body size. Under a good management Limousin can weight an average of 1,091 kg for a bull and an average weight of 727 kg for a cow. Limousin gives an average milk yield of 2,272 kg.


This breed is commonly known for its red to roan to white colour and is also medium size breed and has a potential of weighing an average of 1,045 kg for a bull and a weight of 636 kg for a cow. Shorthorn is able to give an average milk of 1,814 kg.

Care and Management

As a beef farmer make sure you have a good care for your beef animal for them to have a good healthy and more efficient. Make sure enough feeds and water is available all the time and make you are able to call a local veterinary officer to check up whenever the animal is sick. Make sure also that all the biosecurity measures which aims at restricting visitor’s entry are in place and working.


Make sure you construct a beef cattle house which is strong and has good air circulation (well ventilated) while at the same time is easy to clean. This will result in high efficiency rate of production. Make sure all beef cattle having different age sizes are kept at different sections. Make sure also that each cattle are given enough required space which would enable it to have freedom of movement. Avoid exposing your beef cattle to excessive sunlight all the time.

The 21-day cycle

The estrus cycle of the cattle is usually 21-days long which means you can successfully breed your beef animal within. After a successful mating, the cow will have a gestation period of 283 days (period of pregnancy).

Calves management

After successful mating and giving birth, make sure your calves are able to feed colostrum milk from their mother for them to have good immunity in their body which could help them to fight against diseases. They may be introduced to roughages and other feeds ration later.


Make sure you wean your animal on a range of 90 to 100 days

After weaning

Make sure you provide nutritious feeds, which will enable your animal to fatten quickly for sale. Make sure your beef cattle are gaining an average weight of 0.8 to 1.0 kg per day. Make sure you control your animal from gaining excessive fats and This can be done by providing low energy feed ration.


Make sure you remove the cattle horn while they are at a tender age. Various methods are available for dehorning, but the easiest is through breeding. Make sure you cross breed hornless bull for offering to have no horn. A dehorned cattle is easy to handle.


This is the removal of testicals on male beef cattle having undesirable characteristics and will not be used for breeding purposes. Make sure this is done as early as possible. You can castrate your male animal during its first week. You can seek help from your local veterinary officer.


Cattles are known to be ruminant animal and have four chambers. This means they able to digest fibers which otherwise cannot be digested by human stomach. Make sure you provide roughages to your cattle. Make sure you also provide nutritious feed for your beef animal to fatten and mature early.


Always ensure that your animals are healthy and strong, and whenever you notice strange things consultant a local veterinary officer immediately. Healthy animal can easily be achieved through a good management system and also as well practicing biosecurity measures. Make sure your beef house is clean and dry all the time as this can be a source of diseases.

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