Beef | Food | beef steak, beef recipe, recipe for beef, beef recipes, recipes for beef, recipes with beef, recipes beef, ground beef, beef steaks, beef burgers - Beef is defined as the flesh of a cow, bull, or ox, used as food. Others defined beef as a full-grown steer, bull, ox, or cow, especially one intended for use as meat and beef is the flesh of a slaughtered full-grown steer, bull, ox, or cow. Beef is the meat of cattle. In this profile, we discuss how beef is finished. Finishing is the final stage of cattle production. Two to six months before animals are ready for market, they are sent to a feedlot where cattle are fed a high protein and energy diet so they will gain weight prior to slaughter.

About 2 to 6 months before an animal is ready for market it is sent to a feedlot. A feedlot is an enclosed area where the cattle are fed high energy food, mainly barley, oats, and wheat. The average feedlot in BC holds about 400 head of cattle, but there are some large feedlots which hold up to 5,000 animals. In other areas feedlots can be much larger. Each animal will gain 1.3 to 1.8kg of weight a day. This stage is called finishing the cattle. The meat will become marbled with a small amount of fat which helps make beef juicy. The animal is ready for market when it weighs about 227 to 272kg.

We eat beef when we are eating steaks, hamburgers, prime rib roast or beef sausages. We can also eat the liver, kidneys, heart, brain and tongue. Beef is an excellent source of protein, the B vitamins, vitamin A, iron, fat and zinc. Edible by-products from beef include gelatin for marshmallows and ice cream and natural sausage casings.

The hides are tanned and used as leather in shoes, gloves, jackets or sports equipment. Beef by-products are also used for soap, cosmetics, buttons, photographic film, sandpaper, violin strings and explosives. Pharmaceuticals that come from beef by-products include insulin (for diabetes), epinephrine (for hay fever and asthma), heparin (an anti-coagulant), thrombin (for blood clotting), estrogen and thyroid extract.

Packing plants send buyers to the feedlots to buy finished cattle. The cattle are taken to a packing plant where they are slaughtered. Beef is graded at the plant based on the age of the animal, quality of the meat and the meat yield. In Canada, top grade beef is quite lean. The carcass is then cut in two and sides of beef are sold to grocery stores and butcher shops. In some cases the carcasses are further processed and cut into portions that fit into a box. This is called 'boxed beef'. Many of the large chain stores now receive their beef in this form. The by-products, like bones and hides, are sent to processing plants.

One challenge that feedlot operators face in BC is that the high energy protein feed is grown in the Prairies, therefore, we do not have a ready supply (not a major grain producing area). This gives the Prairie feedlot operators a comparative advantage in feed costs. Many BC cow-calf operations send their cattle to Alberta feedlots.

Beef animals are ruminants and like all ruminants have several stomachs. Ruminants swallow grass or other vegetation that people cannot eat. The animal does not chew grass properly. It goes into the rumen, one of the stomachs, where it is stored and broken down into balls of cud. The rumen, which is the largest of the stomachs, is a large fermentation vat. It is this feature that allows ruminants to digest cellulose and convert it to a usable product. When the animal has eaten its fill, it rests and "chews the cud". The balls of cud are brought back up into the mouth, chewed into a pulp and swallowed again. The chewed food goes on through the other three stomachs where it is digested. Other ruminant animals are dairy cattle, sheep, goats and buffalo.

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