The Difference Between Beef and Dairy Cattle

Cattle are commonly bred to provide different goods such as milk, beef, and even leather.

There is a wide array of cow breeds that farmers could choose from depending on their preference. Ranchers in the beef industry have 70 different beef breeds to choose from, while dairy farmers can pick from six main dairy breeds.

Dairy cows are selected for their milking traits and even for the butterfat content of their milk. In the meantime, beef cattle are chosen because of their muscle growth and weaning weight.

Although both breeds belong to the same bovine family, which includes the water buffalo, bison, and others, they differ in build and even in the feed that needs to be given to them.

To distinguish one from the other, here are some common traits that are from the two breeds that are not so easy to miss.

Dairy cows are naturally big and bony with a long, slender frame. In order to fully nurture their young and produce healthy milk, dairy cows need to take in feed that’s equipped with the specific nutrients that they need.

Beef cows, on the other hand are shorter and stockier than their dairy counterparts. They are usually found on the open range so they’re more inclined to protect both themselves and their calves.

All of these attributes are influenced by genetics. But both breeds still provide nutrition and byproducts for human consumption.

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