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ACS Distance Education has been teaching Beef Cattle Production for almost 20 years. Study at home, at your own pace, from anywhere in the world; and be guided by experts with years of experience and training in this industry.

Distance Education Course in Beef Production

Extract from Our Beef Cattle Course

Lesson Aim

Describe the nature and scope of Beef Cattle Production.

The Role of Beef Cattle in Agriculture

Beef cattle form a useful and necessary role in agricultural production for the following reasons:


(a) Beef provides protein and some minerals and vitamins which are necessary to human health and which balance other nutrients that are obtained from plant foods. Animal protein (meat) contains amino acids which are essential to the growth and development of humans. In general, children cannot grow properly without the protein obtained from meat, milk and eggs. Vegetarians can be healthy on a meat-free diet provided they are extremely careful about their diets.


(b) Beef is always in demand to satisfy human appetites. People like the taste of beef and as the standard of living and incomes rise throughout the world, the demand for animal products also rises. Developed countries eat the most meat per person while the underdeveloped countries eat the least.


(c) Cattle are ruminants that convert non-human foods into protein. Beef cattle convert grass and roughage (which can't be eaten by humans) into high quality human food.


(d) Ruminants use native pastures and by-products from arable crops such as straw. These products are available on farms but have little resale value. They are converted into salable products by processing them through the ruminant animal.


(e) Beef cattle produce manure which feeds the soil and maintains soil structure. This increases the production of the arable crops on the farm.


(f) Beef cattle can make use of marginal land. Although the greatest demand is for the high energy plant foods such as cereals and oil seeds, the amount of usable land in the world is limited. Marginal land which is unsuitable for high value cropping can used efficiently used for beef production.



Read the following from your Accompanying Notes: "Beef Cattle Breeds"



1. Using the labelled diagram of a steer's body and beef cuts provided in the Accompanying Notes(at the end of the Beef Cattle Breeds section), identify the following features:

*loin*rib*round*rump *chuck*brisket

*flank*shank*hock*tail*paunch*pin bones

*tail end*poll*muzzle*twist*dew claw*dewlap




2. Visit a butcher shop and take notes on the beef cuts available. What parts of the animal did these cuts come from?

 (If you are unable to visit a butchers shop in real life due to serious accessibility issues, you may undertake a "virtual visit" over the internet, or negotiate another option for this task with your school).

3. Visit a beef cattle property or sales yards. Judge a beef animal according to commonly recognised commercial standards. You should do this by completing the standard judging form included in the Accompanying Notes (at the end of the Beef Cattle Breeds section). Features which need to be assessed include:

  • type
  • muscling
  • finish
  • carcass merit
  • yield
  • quality
  • balance
  • style
  • smoothness.


1. Compile a list of at least 15 breeds of cattle commonly used for beef production.


2. Select ten cattle breeds and compare their advantages and disadvantages for beef production.

Discuss aspects such as:

*heat tolerance   *appearance   *hardiness

*health problems   *handling requirements   *parasite resistance

*productivity (size, growth rates)   *cost of stock   *meat value.

*availability of suitable production areas


3. Choose two breeds suitable for beef production in each of the following locations:

(a) cool temperate areas with winter rains (eg. England, Tasmania, New Zealand),

(b) hot, dry tropics (eg. Northern Australia, Ethiopia),

(c) warm, wet tropics (Central America, North-eastern Australia)

Give reasons for your answer.

4. Write up to one page on recent innovations in beef cattle breeds.

What are some of the newer breeds, what features are being looked for by farmers, etc.?


5. Redraw (freehand) a steer's body. Label all the external parts.


6. Submit the results of your visit to the butcher shop in Set Task 2


7. Submit a completed Standard Judging Form as prepared in Set Task 3.