How Long Do You Raise A Beef Cow

Why Do Some Cows Live Longer Lives?

As the Open Sanctuary Project highlights, how much space cows need depends on various factors such as their age, health and the climate they live in. Importantly, cows require both outdoor and indoor space. This provides them with the chance to roam and graze, as well as a place to get away from the elements when necessary.

Farm sanctuary recommendations for adequate outdoor pasture vary; some suggest no more than two cows per acre, with 1-2 acres per cow being preferable. (An acre is over 43,000 square feet.) For indoor areas, recommendations include sizes of around 30-80 square feet per cow.

Cows raised for dairy and meat have more limited space allowances, particularly in intensive systems. In a 2020 study, researchers surveyed space for cows on UK dairy farms. It found that the “total space” per cow, which included indoor and outdoor areas, ranged from around 5-13 square meters — just 54-140 square feet.

How Long Do Cows Raised for Beef Live?

How long bulls live can vary. Bulls are male cows, which is why infant males are referred to as “bull calves.” Bulls raised for beef are generally castrated at a young age and called “steers” thereafter. Like their female counterparts in beef operations, known as “heifers,” steers are killed at 2-4 years old.

The farming industry also uses intact bulls for breeding purposes. In some instances, bulls are kept on farms for breeding with cows. They are referred to as “natural service bulls.”

Other castrated bulls may be used in the breeding process as well. Known as “teaser bulls,” these individuals are used to identify when cows are fertile. Alternatively, teaser bulls are used as the mount for breeding bulls during semen collection.

British Breeds (Bos Taurus)

On the British Isles, breeds of beef cattle were developed. Common British beef cattle breeds are Angus, Hereford, and Shorthorn. British beef breeds typically mature earlier than Continental beef breeds. British breeds have a history of producing lighter carcass weights and reaching market weight faster. But British breeds can have better marbling, which raises the quality of the product and, eventually, its value.