Beef cattle are raised for meat production. The domestication of cattle for food began around 6500 B.C. in the Middle East. Not being native to America, cattle were brought to the New World on ships by European colonists. The introduction of cattle cars and refrigerated cars on the railroad served as a way to distribute the beef. Major breeds of beef cattle include Angus, Hereford, Charolais and Brahman.
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Beef is meat from full-grown, 2-year-old cattle. A steer (male) weighs about 454 Kilogram and yields about 204 Kilogram of meat. A calf that will be raised as a beef cow, weighs 36.3 Kilogram when born. During the first six months of life, the calf drinks its mother's milk and eats grass until it is weaned.
A cow's diet consists mainly of grass and hay, with some feed supplements. Cows are ruminate animals and have a complex three- or four-part stomach that allows them to digest grass. They "chew the cud," which means they rechew food that has already been chewed and swallowed.
Inspection of Beef
Inspection of beef is mandatory and USDA-graded beef is sold at Prime, Choice and Select grades. Lower grades of meat are used in processed meats. USDA Prime beef has fat marbling, making it more tender and flavourful, but it is also high in fat content.
Cuts of Beef
Beef is cut into four major cuts, which include chuck, loin, rib and round. Generally, chuck and round are less tender and require moist heat, such as braising. Loin and rib cuts can be cooked by dry heat methods, such as broiling or grilling. Other products, in addition to beef, are made from the carcase. Leather, made from the hide, is used to make a variety of items, from clothing to basketballs.
There are four major breeds of beef cows that come in different sizes and colours. Weighing less than other breeds, Angus beef cattle still fall into the category of a beef cow. Similar to cattle of India, the Brahman beef cattle thrive in a hot, humid climate. Most Brahmans are light grey, but some are black or red. Charolais are one of the largest breeds in size and are white in colour. Originating from England, Herefords are mostly red with white faces and prefer the open range.
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