Technically, how is beef raised and what’s life like on a beef farm? Discover the answers by watching this Serious Science video and reading the information below. And to take this learning adventure into your classroom, have your teacher download the free Lesson Activities at the bottom of this page so everyone can share in the fun of this inquiry based learning.
Well, it all begins on the farm of course. Many are family owned operations where the entire family pitches in to help care for the cattle. These cattle are “domesticated” animals. That means that they depend on people to help provide them with proper food, water, and shelter. Each year, the cows on a beef farm, are bred and give birth to a calf. This is busy time for the beef ranchers giving shelter and care to the cows and newborn calves.
During the first few months, calves drink their mother’s milk. It gives them the extra nutrition they need to get started in life. Because they are “bovines” they also begin grazing grass and eventually get weaned from their mother’s milk when they are about 8 months old. At this point, they begin grazing on pastures, or, depending on the time of year, are fed hay and grain.
On some farms, the kids who live there help take care of the calves at this age. As part of their daily chores, they make sure the calves have clean water. They also feed them grain in feeders, plus give them alfalfa hay to eat. Beef farmers may also use professional veterinarians to give both calves and adult cattle needed vaccinations and medical care.
When the calves weigh about 1000 pounds, and are 12 to 16 months old, some are sold to cattle ranches where they are raised on pastures or in feed yards. Some of the calves are also cleaned, groomed, and taken to “calf shows”. The farm kids can help with this part and get to travel to different places. The show calves are shown and sold at auction to other beef farmers.
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