Tour of the Museum

Beef Cattle


Horse and Cattle Barn, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum


As their name implies, beef cattle are those breeds raised for their meat.  The Museum is home to Canada’s most popular beef cattle breeds:


Although natural breeding occurs on a majority of beef farms, the Museum uses artificial insemination (AI). The gestation period is approximately nine months, and cows have their first calves at two years old. Calving season for the beef cattle industry is January to April.

Care and Feeding:

Mothers nurse their calves on pasture until the fall. From September to November, calves are weaned and moved to a feedlot. At this time, they weigh around 250 to 350 kilograms (550 to 770 pounds). Given a diet of silage, protein supplement, grain, and maybe some hay, calves gain about 1 kilograms (2.2 pound) per day. When they reach 500 to 600 kilograms (1100 to 1320 pounds) or 14 to 18 months of age, they are ready for slaughter. Grain is increased during the “finishing” period to create a thin layer of fat, which ensures tender, good-tasting beef.

A 500-kilogram (1100-pound) live animal yields about 215 kilograms (470 pounds) of saleable beef.

Beef Cattle in Canada:

Canada is the fourth-largest beef and cattle exporter in the world, with over 60,000 cattle farms and ranches. There are approximately 3.7 million beef cattle in Canada, of which nearly half are in Alberta. The average herd has 38 heads, but farmers need at least 75 to 100 heads to make a living. Many beef farmers also produce grain and/or raise dairy cows. Canada produces 1.2 billion kilograms (2.7 billion pounds) of beef per year.

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