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Beef Cattle Selection

Beef Cattle Selection - The Keeping Kind
This is one of my registered British White heifers but regardless of the breed or color this is what I think we should consider as an ideal beef animal.

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Illustration Describing The Parts of Beef Animal
This illustration names or describes the various parts of a beef animal. You should learn
the terminology and learn to visually point out to yourself or others where each part is
located on the animal. It will help you make an informed beef cattle selection decision.

     When making a beef cattle selection of purebred breeding cattle, pedigrees should be considered because they will assist you in detecting genetic defects, identifying outstanding bloodlines and be of assistance in planning the mating and breeding programs.

     Selection for correct Beef Breeding Cattle can get complex because to be profitable they need to reproduce regularly over a long period of time, have enough vitality to maintain themselves in thrifty condition mainly on forages and produce calves and/or yearlings that have enough weight and quality to be profitable when sold.

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Beef cattle Muscle Illustration
Study this illustration to learn the basic areas to look for adequate muscling.

     Long thick muscling is desired. It is indicated by the length and size (thickness, circumference) of the major muscles in the forearm, fullness and bulge of muscle in the stifle area above the rear flank, and the length, thickness and bulge of muscle in the round and down the top.  Very thick, short, rounded extreme muscling in the shoulder and round, which hinders locomotion, gives "double muscled" appearance, and is usually not desired.

     Long, smooth, moderate thickness of muscling is  desired. Short, thick, bunchy muscling is usually a disadvantage, as it may be related to light milk production and reproductive inefficiencies.

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Beef Cattle Fat Condition Illustration
This shows the areas to lood for fat conditioning

    The degree of finish or fat condition may vary depending on nutrient levels, parasites, season of year, and genotype and sex of the animal. Bulls should be trim with a thin even distribution of fat and not show excessive  wasty deposits of fat, even when on high nutritive levels, or during the non breeding seasons.

     It may be detrimental to excessively fatten heifers or cows as they deposit excessive fatty tissue in their udder and around their reproductive organs, which may result in decreased milk production and inefficient reproductive rates.

     Females will normally deposit more fat in the brisket, along the underline and over the ribs and back, than bulls. Cows and bulls in good flesh will winter cheaper and more efficiently than those who are poor doers and have little fleshing ability.

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Beef Cattle Capacity and Volume Illustration
Study this image to learn where to look to determine Capacity and Volume

     Adequate depth and width of body is essential for efficient rapid growth and easy keeping ability. You will want to look for cows and heifers that look feminine with refined heads, long, narrow, clean necks; angular body shape with smooth shoulders  and adequate body capacity.

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Beef Cattle Structure Illustration
Study this illustration for the proper structure of a beef animal

Below is a short list of some of the things you should look for to confirm Structural Soundness:

  • Correct set of feet and legs is necessary for cattle to travel and remain sound during a long productive life
  • Uneven, small, curled or twisted toes, and crooked feet usually result in lameness and should be discriminated against
  • Postlegged, extreme knock-kneed, splayfooted, sickle hocked and long-weak pasterns are all conditions which may result in unsoundness and should be considered faults
  • Straight shoulders and short straight pasterns are not desired
  • Free, easy, sound movement is desired as compared to that which is short, stiff and uncoordinated.

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 Red Beef Cattle Barn