Beef Cattle: Basic definitions and other topics

Basic definitions and other topics

What does composite mean?

The term "composite" as used in beef cattle breeding refers to crossbred cattle that result from the mating of crossbred bulls to crossbred females to form a new line or population. Some breeds of cattle such as Brangus (3/8 Brahma:5/8 Angus) are a composite. Likewise, some percentage cattle such as the Balancer designation for Gelbvieh x Angus crosses and the Limflex designation for Limousin x Angus crosses should be considered as composites.

Hybrid or crossbred cattle can be produced by mating purebred bulls of one breed to purebred females of a second breed, composites are generally produced by a continual crossbreeding system that utilizes crossbred females and crossbred bulls.

Composites can be produced in a "closed composite" system whereby no additional genetics is added, thus requiring a large population (1500+ cows) to prevent inbreeding.

A more common system of breeding composites is an "open composite" system that allows continual input of genetics from outside sources to prevent the buildup of inbreeding, thus eliminating the need for a large population and allowing the breeder to take advantage of outstanding bulls of various breeds or crossbreeds as they become proven.

What is the name of the cow's stomachs?

Beef cattle are ruminants and ruminants have one large stomach with four compartments. Those compartments are the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum.

  • The rumen is the largest of the three compartments and contains microorganisms that help digest what the animal eats.
  • The reticulum is lined with cells that look like a honeycomb and if a cow happens to pick up a small nail or hardware in their feed the material ends up in the reticulum.
  • The omasum has cells that shape into a leaf and the omasum empties into the abomasum.
  • The abomasum functions very much like our stomach.

In livestock production please define what a causative gene is?

A causative gene is a gene that has been identified as causing a particular phenotype, most often in the context of genetic disorders. Generally the identification of such a gene leads to the development of genetic tests to identify carriers.

What is the basal body temperature of cattle?

The average body temperature of a cow is about 101.5° F (38.6°C). A cow's body temperature must be maintained within narrow limits in order to sustain its physiological processes. According to the research, the range is found to be 100 to 103°F.

Do beef calves use only milk from their dams for their diets?

When calves are first born, milk from their dam will be the major part of their diet. However, it is surprising, especially for calves that are born in the spring, our data indicates that they will start eating grass when they are 60 to 70 days of age. They will eat about 1.1 to 1.2 percent of their body weight on a dry matter basis of good quality grass starting at that age.

Does weather have an effect on when calves are born?

Sometime when there is a change in atmospheric pressure, cows that are close to calving will start the calving process. I'm not sure that I have data to support that statement. I know that the manager of my research herd says that when a storm front approaches during calving season, that he expects more calves.

At what age are most of the cattle marketed that are ultimately consumed by humans?

Most of the meat supply comes from cattle that are less than 18 months of age. About 15 to 20% of the meat supply comes from cattle that would be considered cull cows or bull that could range in age from 3 to 14 years of age and are usually an excellent source of hamburger.

How much manure does an average 1000 lb steer in a feedlot produce per day?

As a rule of thumb, we consider an annual production of 1 ton/manure/year per head in a feedlot. That would result in a production of approximately 5-7 lb/day.