Beef Producers
Resources > References > Beef Producers

Are you a Smart Kitchen™ Chef?

Try it FREE or take a TOUR to explore Smart Kitchen!
+ -


The production of beef is carried about by four primary types of operations:

  • Cow & Calf Operations: What we typically think of as a ranch. Cow & Calf Operations are where breeding is developed. There are eight major Beef Cattle Breeds, and cows give 14-16 offspring in their lifetimes. Cows go into heat every 18-24 days and 95% of them are artificially inseminated to ensure conception, produce better breeds and controls. Their gestation period is 9 months.
  • Weaner Calf & Yearling Operations: is where the calf is nursed until it is weaned, which occurs when it is 3-4 weeks old. Then it is shipped as Veal if the market is right. If the market is low then the females are used for milk production. The males are castrated at four months and raised for beef. Then they are grass fed until they are 650-750 pounds, (295-340 kg) or yearling stage. They are sold or shipped to dry-lot feeding operations.
  • Dry-Lot Feeding Operations:  or “Backrounders” where the cow’s stomach is prepared for the highly concentrated grains, corn, soy-based feed, and other solubles to “finish” them or fatten them up. They are kept 8-10 weeks, or until they reach 1200-1300 pounds (548-589 kg). Seventy-five percent of all grain raised in the U.S. goes to dry-lot feeding operations. Fillers or other soluble are added to put on weight and have no real nutritional value. Sometimes the cattle are fed by-products, such as ground citrus peels (a practice in Florida). Dry-lot feeding is the most expensive operation in the Beef Industry.

American beef production has remained almost stagnant between 1985 and 2009, growing just 6.4%, while the amount of beef imported has nearly tripled in that time, according to an analysis of USDA figures conducted by R-CALF USA, the trade group that represents cattle producers.

 Since 1996, plunging profits have caused about 11,000 ranches to shut down annually, according to one industry group. That has coincided with a 27% drop in the number of U.S. feedlots in just 13 years.

The Beef Producers are represented by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

  • Slaughtering, Inspection and Fabrication: involves FSIS inspection for adherence to federally mandated guidelines to ensure safety and quality to the consumer. This category also includes all meat processing operations.