What’s the Diff Between Beef and Dairy Cattle?

When you eat a tasty steak or purchase beef for your restaurant, do you know if it came from a cow, steer, angus, holstein, hereford, heifer or a combination thereof?

There are different breeds and types of animals in the beef and dairy industries and yes… even dairy animals are used for consumption. By understanding the basics, you can make educated choices for your beef selections that will affect taste, texture, quality and price. Check out our quick cheat sheet to help.

There are Beef breeds raised for their meat and Dairy breeds raised to produce milk.  Both breeds have common terms to describe the animal.

Cow: A female that has had a calf.
Heifer: A young female that has not had a calf.
Bull: A mature male.
Steer: A castrated male.
Yearling: An animal between 1 and 2 years of age.

Angus Yearling

Beef Cattle:  There are over 70 breeds of beef cattle, the most popular are: Angus, Hereford, Charolais,Chianina, Main-Anjou, Limousin, Longhorn, Simmental & Shorthorn

A cow gives birth to 1 calf a year.
The top grades of beef are:
Prime, Choice and Select.

A 1,000 lb. steer/heifer = 540 lbs. of meat and 460 lbs. of by-product like leather and pharmaceuticals.

1 cow hide = 144 baseballs or 20 footballs or 18 volleyballs or 12 basketballs.

Holstein Cow

Dairy Cattle: The popular breeds are: Holstein, Guernsey, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Aryshire and Milking Shorthorn

The average dairy cow produces 120 glasses of milk a day. It takes about 2 days for milk to go from the cow to the grocery store.

10 lbs. of milk = 1 lb. of cheese.

The best steakhouses and restaurants typically serve steaks that come from beef cattle, primarily Angus and Hereford steers. However, there are purveyors that sell Holstein meat which is typically less expensive but still can be graded as Prime, Choice or Select. There is a distinct difference in the taste and texture along with the lesser price.

Breed goes hand in hand with taste, texture, quality and price. Inquire about breed the next time you buy or order steak!


From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page



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