Canada provides an ideal environment to raise cattle, where they are fed on grasslands and grains. Farmers and ranchers raise their cattle with the goals of ensuring both healthy cattle and a sustainable environment.
Weaning (which means to accustom a young animal to food other than milk)
Once calves have grown and are ready to eat only grass and hay, they are ready to be weaned. At this point, calves weigh around 500 -800 lbs.
Auction and breeding
When calves are ready to leave the ranch, sometimes they are purchased by other producers at auction. Some female calves can be kept on the farm to eventually become mother cows. The best male calves are sometimes kept and raised to become bulls to be used in breeding.
Cattle continue growing while grazing on pastures, or they can be brought into barns or corrals to continue growing. Farmers and ranchers ensure that cattle always have access to fresh feed and water to maintain their health.
Feedlots are a type of intensive livestock operation that prepares beef cattle to be sold as meat products through a process called finishing.
Feedlots focus on continued growth of the cattle by feeding them a nutritious ration. Cattle are provided a healthy, spacious environment with access to fresh feed and water. Cattle will spend between 60-200 days at a feedlot eating a high-energy diet.
Once cattle reach market weight (1500 lbs), they are transported by trucks to a regulated facility for processing into meat products.
Watch Life at Pine Ranch Series
Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan has been working with Erika Stewart, a rancher from Morse, Saskatchewan, to produce an online series called ‘A Year in the Life on Pine Ranch’ that is shared on Canadian Food Focus. Each month, Erika shares a behind-the-scenes look at ranching life, posting videos that help explain things like weaning, calving, vaccination…even how ranchers use ear tags and set up solar-powered water troughs.
As well as being a rancher, Erika is the Provincial Coordinator for Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) program. This is a voluntary program that provides ranchers with training in standard operating procedures in four aspects of the beef industry: food safety, animal care, environmental stewardship and biosecurity. One area the program focuses on is to meet consumer demands for accountable, sustainable beef production.