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Breeds of Beef Cattle

cattle breeds livestock Cattle are considered to have been one of the first animals domesticated by man for agricultural purposes.  They were tamed to provide milk, meat and hides and for draft purposes.  The exact time and place this happened is hidden in the mists of antiquity, but it is thought they were probably first domesticated in Europe and Asia about 8500 years ago.

Domesticated cattle are in the family  Bovidae which includes ruminates with paired, hollow, unbranched horns that do not shed and an even number of toes.  They belong to the genus Bos and the subgenera Taurine which includes the two species tarus and indicus

Cattle are ruminants (as are sheep, goats, deer, and giraffes), which gives them a unique digestive system that allows the digestion of otherwise unuseable foods by regurgitating and rechewing them as cud. They thrive on grasses and other low quality plants built predominantly of cellulose. Cattle have one stomach that has four compartments. They are named the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. The rumen is the largest compartment and is like a fermentation tank, providing the anaerobic environment, constant temperature and pH, and constant mixing that allows microbes to break down the cellulolse. The reticulum, known as the "Honeycomb", is is the smallest compartment. The omasum's main function is to absorb water and nutrients and is known as the "Many Plies." The abomasum is most like the human stomach; this is why it is known as the "True Stomach."

All breeds of British and European cattle like Angus, Hereford, Charolais and Simmental belong to the tarus species.  The humped cattle of the tropical countries like Brahman and Africander belong to the indicus species.  Many contemporary breeds are the result of crossing two or more of the older breeds.  Most of the new breeds originating in the United States were developed in the Southern states where the standard breeds lacked resistance to heat and insects and did not thrive on the native grasses.  Other Bovidae that are so closely related to true cattle that they can interbreed include the bison, buffalo, and yak.

Purebred cattle breeds have been selectively bred over a long period of time to possess a distinctive identity in color, size, conformation, and function and have the prepotency to pass these traits to their progeny.

The world cattle population is estimated to be about 1.3 billion head, with about 30 percent in Asia, 20 percent in South America, 15 percent in Africa, 14 percent in North and Central America, and 10 percent in Europe.  The 10 states in the US with the  largest cattle populations  are Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, Kansas, Iowa, Kentucky, and Florida.

Click on the breed you would like to know more about in the Index on the left.

These are some of the current topics being discussed on's Breeds Board. Why don't you join in?

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These are a few of the topics being discussed on the Q&A Boards.
Just click on the topic to read it.   Why not join the discussion?
CattleToday's Q & A Boards are a Cattle Forum for swapping information and asking and answering questions about breed, health problems, beginners questions and jokes about cattle and horses.

Stray calf
by greybeard (Posted Fri, 24 Oct 2014 05:46:30 GMT)
backhoeboogie wrote:Good deed. What goes around comes around. Those calves generally settle down some when they get around a herd. My guess is that you'll get him back to the owner just fine.

Or they impart their wild ways onto everyone else in the herd--or to most of them anyway...

Share your "something I learned" ...
by wbvs58 (Posted Fri, 24 Oct 2014 05:12:53 GMT)
If you tell lies you have to have a very good memory.

Feeding young bulls
by Nesikep (Posted Fri, 24 Oct 2014 02:46:14 GMT)
Looks like a good animal to me

Stats Canada
by Nesikep (Posted Fri, 24 Oct 2014 02:32:50 GMT)
No visit from RC I take it? At least that's some comfort.

video of our fullblood Aubrac bull calf
by Nesikep (Posted Fri, 24 Oct 2014 02:29:15 GMT)
he's a lot like mine, I like them that way

Sluggish/weak calf?
by branguscowgirl (Posted Fri, 24 Oct 2014 01:55:17 GMT)
I would take the cow too if it's easier to load them together. (And if your vet has facilities to handle them.)

South Texas Farm & Ranch Show, Victoria TX & traveling
by branguscowgirl (Posted Fri, 24 Oct 2014 01:21:35 GMT)
Sounds like fun Chippie! The tractors and the chuggers are some of my favorites also.
Please have someone take your pic doing your thing with Coco!

Bad day in the hay field.
by polledbull (Posted Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:57:00 GMT)
I had a neighboor years ago had a baler catch fire , he tried to back up and dump the bale out, in a hurry to do this and unhook the baler the tractor and baler jack-knifed , allowing the tounge of the baler to climb up on the back tire of the tractor, it got hung up, he jumped out but was unable to get the pin out of the hitch ,it was getting to hot to stay there , he ended up burning the baler and the tractor up.

Rifle clips or magazines
by Ryder (Posted Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:41:46 GMT)
Accidents happen with unloaded guns.
I want to be safe, so I keep everything loaded.

Condolences to Canada
by john250 (Posted Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:34:31 GMT)
heck, Nesi, they are already here. Beheadings in Nebraska, shootings at Ft Hood. Trouble is that our Pres. is a Muslim who favors all of this. At least Canada doesn't have that problem.

The trip we all dread
by backhoeboogie (Posted Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:08:14 GMT)
That has to be depressing for him. Plus I am sure he knows that his words were twisted up the other day. Likely embarrassed. Prayers for the whole family.

Ebola in the USA
by backhoeboogie (Posted Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:03:51 GMT)
This doctor said he began feeling sluggish on Tuesday. Then he got on the subway and went bowling. WTH???

Fever broke out on Thursday.

Tiny first timer and her calf...
by WalnutCrest (Posted Thu, 23 Oct 2014 23:08:29 GMT)
Nicely done and congratulations.

Nearly set the tractor alight
by alisonb (Posted Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:59:31 GMT)
Alight, afar...a fire . Thanks folks, a new day has dawned here...let's see what I can get up to today

Building A Herd From Scratch
by WalnutCrest (Posted Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:57:38 GMT)
A few things ...

* The best decision we made in the first year of operation was buying a group of seven older cows (7yrs to 10yrs old) who were in their last trimester from a long-time breeder with a great reputation. They shot their calves out with no problems (despite the blizzard half of them were born in) and raised them all up to weaning. It's LOTS cheaper to learn on lesser expensive cattle than to learn on elite cattle.

* Once you have what you think is a reasonable handle on what you're doing (ranging from stockmanship to grazing to breeding ... etc ...), upgrade your cows ... sell / eat your oldies and plow the $$ into proven cows who are 3-5yrs of age with the best genetics you can find (and, who are proven in-calf, ideally with sexed heifer embryos in route). Ideally, every cow you get in this group will have had her 2nd calf before her 3rd birthday. In a perfect world, you will be able to get through two or three calving seasons before you have to figure out a way to coax a calf out of a heifer that doesn't want to let go. The increased confidence around your cattle will help this eventuality go as smoothly as it can go (which, sometimes isn't that smoothly). Also, by buying bred cows, you can take your time to learn about genetics, breeding, etc. and to find the people who have the genetics you think you want --- it takes time to do the research and the networking to actually locate the best of what you want.

* Fertility is the most important thing in your operation (roughly, research indicates its 10x more important than growth, and growth is 5x more important than carcass traits, when determining the profitability of a commercial operation). Fertility is a function of body condition. Smaller frame cows can stay in better condition in a rough environment (drought, etc.) than lanky cows.

* Cattle come with four rough measurements ... length, height, width and depth. All else being equal (temperament, price, genetics, etc.), I'd prefer long bodied, short-legged, wide and deep-gutted cattle over some of the frame-chaser cattle others prefer. To wit, I drove past a place close to me a couple of weeks ago and wondered why the owner had decided to put a horse out with all of his cattle ... only to take a second look and realize that the animal in question was no horse.

* Ask lots of questions and make your own decisions. I looked at black and red angus, galloway, tuli, senepol, south poll, limousin, and hereford before picking our direction.

* Travel around and see what other people are doing in terms of management, genetics, marketing, etc. There are some seriously smart and creative people out there. While one guy may have a very different bent than you, by knowing them, when you come across a problem that is right up their alley, they'll be more inclined to pitch-in to give you the benefit of their years of expertise and insight.

* Enthusiasm is required. As is patience.

* The best cattle in the worst breed (whatever that might be) are better than the average cattle in the best breed (whatever that might be).

* Understand the genetics behind how animals get fat (leptin, calpain, etc.) and research whether or not you think the butterfat and protein content of the cows you're looking at will impact the quality of the calves (I, personally, believe that understanding the kappa casein, beta casein and beta lactoglobulin genotype of your cattle will save you years of 'fixing' cattle that are poor doers).

I'm sure there is more ... but ... start small and start cheap ... learning on experienced cows that you couldn't screw up if you tried is a much better idea than trying to (say) learn on a group of high-dollar heifers.

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