Beef Cattle... Touching You Daily


Beef Cattle Terms

  • Bovine – A ruminant mammal belonging to the genus Bos which includes cattle.
  • Bull – A male capable of reproduction.
  • Cow – Mature female that has produced a calf.
  • Calf – Young male or female less than one year of age.
  • Steer – Male that has been castrated before maturity, especially raised for beef.
  • Heifer – Young female over one year old that has not had a calf.


Worldwide there are more than 250 breeds of cattle. Over 60 of these breeds are present in the United States. However, a relatively small number of breeds (less than 20) are utilized for commercial beef production. Some of those breeds are:

  • Angus - Imported from Scotland in 1873
  • Beefmaster – Developed early 1930s in U.S. (Brahman-Hereford-Shorthorn cross)
  • Brahman – Imported from India in 1854
  • Charolais – Imported from France in 1936
  • Brangus – Developed 1932 in U.S. (Angus-Brahman cross)
  • Hereford – Imported from England in 1817

Beef Cattle Production

Each year, over 5 million calves are born on over 130,000 cow-calf operations in Texas.

The nearly 1 million beef cattle operations in the United States produce over 24 billion pounds of beef which generates about $80 billion in retail beef sales.

Top Counties – All Beef Cows (5 yr. average)

  1. Lavaca – 80,800
  2. Gonzales – 79,800
  3. Fayette – 76,000
  4. DeWitt – 66,000
  5. Leon – 65,000
  6. Houston – 65,000
  7. Milam – 61,000
  8. Robertson – 58,600
  9. Limestone – 58,200
  10. Brazoria – 57,600

Texas Total – 5,461,000

Top States – All Cattle and Calves (5 yr. average)

  1. Texas – 13.86 million
  2. Kansas – 6.57 million
  3. Nebraska – 6.35 million
  4. California – 5.31 million
  5. Oklahoma – 5.30 million

U.S. Total – 96.05 million

Beef Cattle Production Systems

  • Cow-calf- Ranchers produce the cattle for the stocker market or feedlot (commercial operations) or other breeding herds (purebred operations).
  • Feedlot – Raises calves until they weigh 900 to 1,400 pounds and market them to packer operations.
  • Stocker – Ranchers graze weaned calves until they weigh as much as 900 pounds, and then market them to the feedlots.

Addressing Misconceptions of Beef Production

Myth: Beef production uses outrageous amounts of water, feed and land that should be used for something else.

Truth: It takes 2.6 pounds of grain and 435 gallons* of water to produce a pound of beef in the U.S. 85% of the nation's grazing lands are not suitable for farming. Cattle eat forages that humans cannot consume and convert them into a nutrient-dense food.

*Considers all factors including direct consumption, irrigation of pastures and crops, and carcass processing.

Cash Receipts

Beef cattle production represents the largest single segment of agriculture.

United States Agriculture Cash Receipts (Top 5 Commodities)

Cattle and Calves $49.1 billion
Dairy Products $23.4 billion
Corn $21.7 billion
Broilers $18.9 billion
Soybeans $16.9 billion


Texas Agriculture Cash Receipts (Top 5 Commodities) 

Cattle $ amount
 Cattle and Calves  $7.4 billion
 Cotton  $1.9 billion
 Greenhouse/Nursery  $1.5 billion
 Broilers  $1.3 billion
Dairy Products  $947 million


Increased productivity is the main contributor to growth in U.S. agriculture.

  • Beef production per cow has increased from about 400 pounds in the mid-1960s to almost 600 pounds today.
  • This means more business opportunities for the producers and cost saving for consumers.


The beef Americans love is leaner than ever before and good for you too!

Beef provides three essential nutrients:

  • Protein – builds, maintains and repairs body tissues
  • Iron – helps red blood cells carry oxygen to body cells and tissues
  • Zinc – for growth and maintaining the immune system

Beef also provides B-vitamins which promote healthy skin, a healthy nervous system, and is important for digestion and metabolism. One 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 50% of the daily value of our need for protein and just 6.4 grams of fat on average.

There are currently 29 cuts of beef that meet USDA criteria for lean.

Beef Choices:

Beef producers offer a variety of beef choices to meet the changing lifestyles and nutritional needs of consumers. While each offers something different, they all share three common values: taste, nutrition and safety.

  • Grain-fed Beef – The most widely produced and tends to be less expensive. The cattle spend most of their lives eating grass in a pasture before moving to a feedlot where they are fed a high-energy, grain diet.
  • Grass-finished Beef – The cattle are raised on grass pastures their entire lives. Producing in large volumes is difficult in North America where few regions have the growing season to make it possible.
  • Certified Organic Beef – The cattle must be fed 100% organic feed and must be certified through the USDA's Agricultural Marketing System. In addition, these cattle can not be given hormones to promote growth or antibiotics. If antibiotics are needed they are not withheld but the animal must be permanently removed from the program.
  • Natural/Branded Beef – By definition, most beef is natural. According to the USDA "natural" may be used on a beef label if the beef does not contain artificial flavoring, coloring, chemical preservatives or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient. Producers raising cattle for beef marketed with a "natural" label may follow different production practices in order to brand their beef.


For as long as animals have been harvested as a food source, their by-products have been just as important.  Cattle provide us with many products – other than beef – which are used to create industrial, household, health and food products, many of which you consume or use every day!

Beef byproducts allow 99% of every beef animal to be utilized!

The medical world relies on beef by-products for many life saving or life improving medications and treatments such as:

  • Chrymotrypsin – promotes healing of burns and wounds.
  • Collagen is used in plastic surgery and to make non-stick bandages.
  • Heparin is an anticoagulant used to treat and prevent blood clots.
  • Pancreatin aids in the digestion of food.
  • Vitamin B-12 aids in the prevention of B-Complex deficiencies.

Cowhide provides us with leather, which is used to make:
Clothing, shoes, boots, belts, purses, wallets, gloves, luggage, furniture and automobile upholstery

Beef on the Road

  • Tires contain stearic acid, a by-product of animal fat that makes the rubber hold its shape under continuous surface friction. Even the asphalt on our roadways has a binding agent from fat.
  • Other products we use to get down the road are:
    • Upholstery
    • Car polishes and wax
    • Hydraulic brake fluid and antifreeze

Food Items

Not only does beef cattle provide us with beef like delicious roast, steaks on the grill, or a tasty hamburger, there are also many other edible parts.

  • Collagen-based
    • Sausage casing
  • Blood
    • Protein extracts
    • Blood Sausage
  • Gelatin
    • Ice Cream
    • Yogurt
    • Marshmallows
  • Plasma Protein
    • Cake mixes
    • Pasta
    • Imitation Seafood
    • Deep-fry batters
  • Fatty Acid Based
    • Oleo Margarine
    • Oleo Shortening
    • Chewing Gum

Household Goods

Household items manufactured with inedible beef by-products are a daily part of life.

How many of these beef by-products do you use nearly every day?

  • Fats/Fatty Acids and Protein Meals
    • Animal Feeds
    • Candles
    • Cellophane
    • Ceramics
    • Cosmetics
    • Crayons
    • Deodorants
    • Detergents
    • Floor Wax
    • Insecticides
    • Insulation
    • Linoleum
    • Mouthwash
    • Paints
    • Paper
    • Perfumes
    • Pet Foods
    • Plastics
    • Shaving Cream
    • Shoe Cream
    • Soap
    • Synthetic Rubber
    • Toothpaste
  • Gelatin
    • Photographic Film
  • Hair
    • Paint Brushes
  • Collagen-based
    • Adhesives
    • Bandages
    • Emery Boards
    • Wallpaper
    • Glues
    • Sheetrock
  • Hide
    • Sporting Goods
    • Luggage
    • Boots & Shoes
    • Clothing
    • Gloves & Belts
    • Purses & Wallets

Pharmaceutical Products

The medical field uses numerous beef by-products to save lives daily. Our bodies readily accept medication or treatments made with these components.

  • From the Pancreas
    • Insulin – For treating diabetes and high blood sugar
    • Chymotrypsin – Promotes healing of burns and wounds
    • Pancreatin – Acids in digestion of food
    • Glucagon – Treats hypoglycemia or low blood sugar
  • From the Blood
    • Blood Factors – For treating hemophilia, killing viruses and making anti-rejection drugs
    • Iron – Anemia
    • Thrombin – Coagulant which helps blood clot
  • From the Bone
    • Bone Marrow – Blood disorders
    • Soft Cartilage – Plastic surgery
    • Bone Meal – Calcium and phosphorous source
  • From the Pituitary Gland
    • Prolactin – Promotes lactation
    • Pressor Hormone – Regulates Blood Pressure
    • Vasopressin – Controls intestinal and renal functions
    • ACTH – Arthritis and allergies
  • From the Liver
    • Heparin – Anti-coagulant
    • Liver Extract – Treatment of anemia
    • Vitamin B-12 – Prevention of B-complex deficiencies

Did You Know?

The hide from one beef animal can be made into:

  • 20 footballs or
  • 12 basketballs or
  • 18 soccer balls or
  • 12 baseball gloves or
  • 18 volleyballs or
  • 144 baseballs

View Graphics!