- Kentucky is home to 2.15 million head of beef cattle.
- Kentucky has 38,000 beef cattle farms. The average herd size is 27.
- Beef cattle are more muscular than dairy cattle and are raised for meat only.
- Cattle have been raised in Kentucky since the 1780s and continue to have significant impact on the Commonwealth’s economy.
- Beef is the name of meat from cattle. Some beef cuts include ribeye steak, sirloin steak, T-bone steak, filet mignon, roast, brisket, ribs, and hamburger.
- Mother cows give birth to a calf each year. Some cows calve in the spring, and some cows calve in the fall. For the first few months, calves drink their mother’s milk
and graze on pasture.
- Calves are weaned from their mothers around 7-8 months of age, when they weigh
about 500-600 pounds.
- All cattle spend a majority of their lives grazing on pasture. The length of time cattle
spend on pasture depends on the type of pasture and growing season. Farmers begin to prepare cattle for processing, or finish, when they reach 12 to 16 months.
- Most cattle are finished in feedyards where they receive a carefully balanced, nutritious diet of grains and forages (dried plants) for an average of 120 to 180 days. Cattle in feedyards have constant access to water, room to move around, socialize, and behave. More Kentucky farmers are finishing their cattle on their pastures, because more customers are interested in eating local meats.
- Angus is the most popular beef breed both in Kentucky and nationwide. Other popular breeds include Hereford, Shorthorn, Simmental, and Limousin, but many beef cattle operations raise crossbred cattle, or cattle with parents of different breeds.
- Cattle by-products, what is left over after the meat has been processed, are used in hundreds of products we use every day. Glues, gelatin, soaps, leather, and medicines are a few examples.
Kentucky kids Jaycie and Cade show us around their beef cattle farm in Pleasureville, Ky.
Field Trip 5 Lesson (PDF) - Focus on habitat, inherited traits, and form to function. This lesson also includes a worksheet showing the different products we can make from livestock.
WOW That Cow! Informational Brochure
Milk or Meat? Beef or Dairy? - LS: Growth & Development and Structure & Function
Build-A-Calf Workshop: A Genetics Lesson
Making a Brand for Ourselves the "Cowboy" Way
Cattle Lapbook and Unit Study
Beef Up Your Nutrition
The Stage is Set For Beef
All About Beef
After School Beef Resource Kit
Beef: A Story in Agriculture Lesson Plans
The Cattle Drive and Westward Expansion
At Home on the Range
Beef: A Healthy Option
Roll of the Genes
The QUEST for the Whole Enchilada
VIDEO CLIP: Ruminant Digestion of a Cow (PBS)