Firstly, mature female cows and bulls are bred to produce calves. During this 9 month gestation period, farmers will pay close attention to ensure that there are no problems with the pregnancy. Should there be any issues, the farmer or veterinarian will step in to ensure that the pregnant cows remain healthy.
When a calf is born, it usually weighs around 60 - 100 pounds, depending on the parent's genetics and how well the pregnant cow is being fed during gestation period. A newborn calf will normally spend a few months of its initial life drinking the mother's milk and graze on grass pastures.
Animal safety is priority
Animal safety is crucial for any farmers. Hence, it is important to be able to identify their cattle for safety purposes. Some farmers would use ear tags for identification. Before weaning, other calves may receive custom brand so that they are easily identifiable from a distance. Branding process does not cause any hard to the cows and it helps to prevent the animals from getting lost or stolen.
Before 4 months old, testicles are often removed from male calves by a process called castration. This is because bulls often display more aggressive behaviour and can cause harm to other animals or to the farmers. Removing the testicles often improves overall safety for the animals. Removing the testicles is quick, low-stress and the calf begins to heal immediately.
Cattle with horns may also harm to other animals. Therefore, horns are removed from calves through a process called dehorning. It is recommended that the cattle be dehorned as early as possible.
At around 6 - 10 months of age and approximately 500 pounds, calves are ready to begin weaning. Weaning is a process where the calves are removed from their mothers and they begin to graze on grass pastures where they start eating grass and forages that are indigestible to humans. Weaning process allows the calves to be independent of their mother's milk so that they may continue to grow and thrive on their own.
After weaning, lifecylce of beef cattle continues. Many cows are purchased at livestock auction markets by farmers and ranchers. Some calves are kept on the cow-calf operation as breeding animals, and the lifecycle begins.
In every stage of the beef lifecycle, farmers and ranchers are dedicated to the health and safety of the animals at the cow-calf operation.