Where does your beef come from?

Cattle at the feed bunk

Although some of my daughters’ friends claim that beef comes from a grocery store, in reality it is quite a bit more complex than that. The great tasting beef that my farm produces comes from well cared for cattle who are handled in accordance with Beef Quality Assurance practices from birth to harvest. So what does the life cycle of a calf look like?

Baby calves are born on a ranch where they spend the first 6-18 months grazing on grass pastures. The first part of that time the young calf spends with its mother (the cow) nursing in addition to eating grass. At 6-8 months of age it is necessary for the health and well-being of the cow for the calf to be weaned. (As a mother who chose to breastfeed her daughters, I can personally relate to this need to wean!) At this point, the calf is either placed on a different pasture at the home ranch or shipped to another farm.

Approximately 4-6 months prior to harvest, most cattle are sent to a cattle feedyard like mine. There, they are fed a nutritionally balanced grain and forage diet which enables the calf to grow and be prepared for harvest. At my feedyard, calves live in dirt based pens

Cattle in their "home pen" at the feedyard.

where they have constant access to an abundant supply of fresh water and plenty of room to run and play. We encourage our animals to play and we even exercise them to ensure their mental, emotional, and physical fitness.

When a calf is ready for harvest, it is sent to a packing plant to be harvested for beef. The welfare and dignity of the animal is preserved through this process through both company created protocols and federal regulations. The Humane Slaughter Act of 1958 enables federal inspections of meat packing plants to ensure that cattle are handled humanely. In addition, scientists and welfare specialists like Dr. Temple Grandin work directly with the companies on both plant design and internal auditing to ensure good welfare and humane handling.

After harvest, the beef is fabricated and cut up and packaged for you to purchase and feed to your family. So, your beef does ultimately come from the grocery store!

8 Comments

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8 responses to “Where does your beef come from?

  1. Renee Dewell

    Well done and thank you for taking the time to write!

  2. A handful of good elements in this article and actually just didn’t have a clue about any of this in the past so thanks a lot for the information

  3. Rachael

    Like much of our society, you are fooled by these industrial factories. Watch Food inc, it will change the way you see things and the way you choose to eat.

    • Hi Rachel,
      Thanks so much for reading! I actually have watched Food, Inc. I was part of a farmer panel that discussed the movie on a TV panel not long after the movie was released. I believe that your interest in the origin of your food is admirable. I also can certainly understand your concerns. I would like to share my personal experience as a farmer with you if that is OK? Farming in Nebraska is very different than what the movie portrayed. I actually found the movie to be misleading. I am curious as to why you believe that a farmer like me would not be as good a source of information as a movie created by people that are not farmers?

      I just blogged about the book Fast Food Nation which was written by one of the men that put together the movie–perhaps you could read my detailed thoughts on the book if you are interested in learning more from a farmers point of view? There is a link in the post to a detailed word document with my extensive thoughts on the book.

      Anyway, thank you very much for being interested in where your beef comes from–I love to share what I do to care for cattle and raise beef. I hope that you will continue to read my posts and learn more about our farm.

      All the best,
      Anne

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