Raising beef cattle efficiently, producing more meat of better quality in a shorter time is the priority for 10 out of 10 successful producers. 

To better understand the subject, we start from the definition that beef cattle are bovine breeds whose genetic characteristics are ideal for slaughter to produce meat and meat products. In Brazil, the creation of beef cattle is undoubtedly one of the main economic activities, being also responsible for a considerable part of our gross domestic product – GDP. 

In this sense, beef cattle production is profitable since it is an excellent investment option; after all, the Brazilian herd has developed a lot, becoming the largest in the world. Also, there is a growing demand for our products, both in the national and international markets.

Suppose you are thinking about whether it is worth investing in beef cattle. In that case, you need to understand some topics ranging from the farm structure, management of pastures to the creation and management of the property, which is commonly overlooked by some producers.

It is a fact that everyone wants to succeed with beef cattle breeding, but it is not a simple path. So, read on, understand everything it takes to have a profitable production! 

How to raise beef cattle? 

Firstly, to raise beef cattle, it is necessary to pay attention to several aspects, ranging from breed to care choice with food and farm management. Here, we summarize what you need to know to invest in beef cattle step by step. Check out! 

  1. Define the breed that best meets your expectations and is suitable for the region of the property; 
  2. Invest in genetic improvement of the herd
  3. Understand about the bovine breeding phases – create, recreate, fatten; 
  4. Be careful with nutritional management; 
  5. Make sure the facilities are adequate; 
  6. Do administrative management planning;
  7. Make your farm profitable! 

Throughout this article, you will see more about each of these items. Next, see more about the main beef cattle breeds! 

Main breeds of beef cattle

In Brazil, most beef cattle are zebu, reaching 80% of production. The great acceptability of this animal is because it adapts very well to tropical climates. In general, they are rustic animals with less nutritional requirements and more excellent resistance to diseases. However, taurine-type breeds are also used for providing quality meat. 

Check out below the main breeds of beef cattle raised in the country! 

Nellore

Nelore cattle are the Zebu breed with the highest production in the country; after all, they are very adapted to the country’s climatic conditions. It was also one of the breeds that received the most money for genetic improvement to reach an efficient nutritional requirement standard. 

Tabapua

Tabapuã animals are recognized for their excellent maternal ability and high fertility, making them desirable for reproductive biotechniques. It is the only breed of zebu developed in Brazil, and its breeding has been increasingly common in the country. 

Brahman

Zebu breed has an excellent feed conversion: the number of kilos of meat produced per kilos of food consumed. Also, the Brahman breed females have a short calving interval about the others and have good milk production. This results in weaning calves with a reasonable fattening rate. 

Guzera

This breed’s differential is the double aptitude because the animals are suitable for both meat and milk. Females are easy to give birth to as calves are born smaller. Another characteristic is that the cattle of the breed are used as a genetic basis for other crossings. 

Genetic improvement in livestock

Today, the animal breeding industry generates around 5 billion dollars in the world. With all the technological advances, it is essential to use reproductive biotechnologies for genetic improvement, increased slaughter, and productivity levels of the herd.

In general, we can say that beef cattle’s genetic improvement aims to increase feed conversion, reduce the time between calves, and produce calves more resistant to local conditions. That is, for those who want to raise beef cattle with excellence is a mandatory requirement. 

See the main breeding biotechniques available to cattle breeders and which has provided significant advances in improving the herd: 

  • Artificial insemination;
  • Fixed Time Artificial Insemination;
  • Embryo transfer for IN VIVO production
  • IN VITRO Embryo Production.

However, to put them into practice, it is necessary to know animal anatomy and technologies that assist in the application and ultrasound. 

Management in the stages of beef cattle rearing

To understand how the cattle production cycle takes place, we need to know all its stages.

The stages of beef cattle breeding comprise:

1- Create 

2- Rebuild 

3 – Fattening

In this way, profit on creation depends on each phase being carried out with the correct management strategies. Next, check out more information about each one. 

1- Create 

This phase goes from genetic improvement, the calf’s growth to weaning, which happens between 6 to 8 months of age.

First, to ensure success in the animal reproduction process, the breeder must have the best bulls, cows, and heifers. That is, they are all in excellent condition and at the best age for reproduction. Thus, invest in breeding programs to obtain calves with desirable characteristics. 

After birth, the calves must be managed appropriately. There are two essential precautions during this stage: colostrum feeding and navel healing. These two practices together are responsible for up to 70% of disease prevention.

Calves are fragile and must take special care to be free of disease—for example, diarrhea, one of the leading causes of animal loss. 

In general, this phase’s main objective is to make the calves live healthily and still reach weaning with the most significant possible weight. However, pre-weaning weight gain is influenced by some factors, such as:

  • Nutrients provided
  • The maternal ability of the cow
  • Genetic potential of the calf

Consistent strategies and small details can make the difference between weaned calves’ production with high rates of profitability and having an activity that provides losses.

In this context, it is essential to evaluate each animal separately and check the fertility index to guarantee the return on investment. 

2. Recreating – Development

This phase’s main objective is the development of the animal to express its genetic potential to the maximum. To develop with the structure and weight gain of the breed in the shortest possible time.

The rearing phase begins after weaning the calves. It is a critical phase because if the development is not well executed, the fattening process will be impaired. The excellent development of the animals depends on the care and food provided during this phase.

If there are any management errors during the development phase, the fattening process may be compromised. After all, the main objective of the rearing is to guarantee high gains and anticipate the next phase. For this to happen, it is possible to invest in supplementation to produce a more efficient and economical sign. However, supplementation control is essential, ensuring consumption at the correct dosage and use of the appropriate component, according to the responsible technician’s recommendation.

Finally, efficient breeding of animals, especially in the pasture, also requires control of the zootechnical indexes, management, and fertilization of pastures to obtain high performances.

3. Fattening – Termination 

Fattening, or finishing as it is known, is the final stage of beef cattle rearing. In this stage, the cattle are subjected to a specific diet for weight gain to produce more meat and better quality.

During termination, an appropriate diet or diet should be provided for weight gain and so that the quality of the meat is the best possible, adding all the value of the work done in the two previous phases.

Fattening herds may consist of adult animals, steers over two years of age, weaned calves and withers. From the biological point of view, animals in the fattening phase do not have as efficient growth as inbreeding and rearing. Because, as the animal approaches its mature weight, the intensity of its growth decreases.

In calves’ fattening, the food requirement is high, as they have to maintain their body, grow, and put on weight. For this reason, the use of food supplementation at this stage can also make it possible to slaughter younger animals, with better quality carcasses, more significant weight gain, and deposition of subcutaneous fat.

At any calf rearing stage, the animals’ nutritional requirements must be respected to achieve the expected results. For example, do you know what type of feed is ideal for beef cattle? Check it out on the next topic!

Nutritional management as an excellent ally

There is no doubt that feeding is essential for all stages of beef cattle breeding. However, it goes beyond providing food in the right amount. It is necessary to think about the nutrients essential for developing the animal, prioritizing energy expenditure and weight gain. 

The beef cattle nutrition is one of the leading production costs. That is why it is necessary to have knowledge about what is necessary and to avoid losses. 

That said, beef cattle need to receive two types of feed, basically: 

Bulky

Foods called roughage are those with high fiber content, such as fodder (hay, grass, and silage in the form of pastures), straw (remaining crops after grain harvest), and sugar cane. They are essential for the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and provide essential nutrients. 

Concentrates

Concentrated foods are those that are low in fiber and can be energetic or protein. Energy foods have a low protein content and high energy value, such as wheat bran, corn grain, cassava root, and rice bran. Protein concentrates, in addition to energy, have a high protein concentration. As well as cottonseed, soy, or peanut meal.

The combination of the two types gives the animal access to the amount of energy and nutrients needed for weight gain. 

Supplementation

In addition to bulky and concentrated, you can also opt for supplementation, such as mineral and vitamin compounds. However, for diets to produce more significant weight gain, it is necessary to balance each food amount. In this way, the final mixture will meet the requirements of the animal category’s organism to be fed.

It is essential to highlight that it should always contain foods that encourage rumination in cattle’s diets because ruminants must receive a certain amount of fiber for the rumen to function correctly.

If you are interested in nutritional management, access our free and practical Guide to profit even more from beef cattle breeding!

Pasture management for beef cattle

Likewise, grazing management is also a crucial factor for those who want to raise beef cattle efficiently. However, it requires care so that common mistakes are not made, such as the inadequate number of animals per area, type of forage, intense exploitation, or lack of adequate supplementation.

Pastures represent the most practical and economical way to feed cattle. That is, it is the support base for beef cattle here in Brazil. For this reason, it is necessary to create excellent and competitive measures to use the soil for cattle breeding, facing other possibilities. Thus, it is possible to intensify the activity and adopt techniques such as the supplementation of roughage in the dry period and the rotation of fertilized pastures.

The rotation of pastures is nothing more than alternating pasture, in which the animal is “running” between the built paddocks so that the grass grows again. It can be used following the height of the paddocks’ entry and exit according to the type of grass. Another characteristic of this system is fertilization and maintenance to obtain maximum productivity.

It is worth mentioning that this is a fundamental management technology that provides increased productivity, increased support capacity, better use of the total available area, and prevents degradation of pastures over the years.

Cattle facilities

The facilities must be another priority in breeding beef cattle, regardless of the type of breeding system that will be adopted. In summary, if they are made available in the right way, they can significantly facilitate livestock management and the quality of the animal’s life.

The best corral for cattle must be characterized by characteristics such as:

  • Simplicity
  • Durability
  • Functionality
  • Resistance
  • Safety for workers and animals

In principle, it is essential to be aware of nails, wood, and screws that can cause wounds, bruises, and cuts in the animals’ leather.

The best type of installation will depend on the production system adopted. But in general, the essential items are:

  • Fences
  • Corral
  • Water tank
  • Mineral water trough and troughs

How to create the right corral for cattle?

In this sense, the right corral for beef cattle should allow all the necessary handling with cattle to be carried out efficiently, comfortably, and safely. For example, vaccination, marking and identification, dehorning, insemination, weighing, andrological and gynecological examination.

For the construction of the corral, in addition to periodic cleaning of the premises, it is essential to follow the recommendations:

  • Water points (tap and drinking fountain)
  • Containment logs
  • The suitable waste collection container
  • Dock with slope ramp
  • Smooth internal walls and free from protrusions (nails, screws, or hardware)
  • The firm, dry elevated terrain in a strategic location to facilitate animal handling

Another guideline is the construction of creep-feeding, which is nothing more than surrounding a small area within the pasture. Only calves have access to it, and troughs with concentrated feed are placed. This is a practical form of management to supplement the calf’s feeding during lactation.

Beef cattle planning

An indispensable factor for any successful investment is production planning. Thus, all strategies must aim at quality, creation productivity, cost of production, and economic efficiency.

Some details must be evaluated continuously through various technologies and constant monitoring of production to obtain the best results.

Acting with an entrepreneurial vision may seem complicated, but it becomes practical and easy to perform with some tools. For excellent results, you need to learn to focus on beef cattle production’s technical and economic management.

How to turn the farm into a profitable company?

Many producers want their farm to be profitable, but they do not treat it as a company and do not have a concrete plan for the next actions. As in any economic activity, management and administration mainly comprise four actions:

– Planning

– Organization

– Direction

– Control

All this combined with efficient reproductive management, counting on the biotechnology’s decision for the genetic improvement, whether it is natural, artificial insemination, or IATF (insemination in fixed time). Such a decision must always be based on a careful analysis of what is most advantageous.

Another point that can help make the farm even more profitable has a differential. There are not a few people who reduce the number of times they consume beef to consume a product of superior quality. Indeed, the search for noble cuts with guaranteed quality is a powerful trend.

“Premium” products have been gaining ground with consumers. However, there is still a lack of trained professionals to meet this certified meat market’s demand.

Think about it, a piece of meat hanging from a low-value butcher’s hook can be transformed and enhanced simply by cutting it ready for consumption, attractive and hygienic packaging. Also, the addition of the brand is recognized as a guarantee of product safety and quality.

Investment in knowledge

Indeed, another characteristic of all successful beef cattle breeding is an investment in knowledge. Both for employees who deal directly with cattle and for those who manage the property. Because there is no way to have a competitive creation, engaged team, and success in the activity without having the practical knowledge on the subject.

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