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
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!