Raising cattle is one of the oldest agricultural enterprises in Louisiana, beginning in the early 1700s. The first cattle arrived here after trappers diminished the deer population. Our state’s earliest cattle breeds were longhorn Spanish cattle, Red Poll and the milking Shorthorn. After World War I, cattlemen began specializing in some of the beef breeds they saw overseas during the war. The cattle industry was severely disrupted during the Civil War when invading armies moved into the area. In the early 1900s, railroads also reduced cattle numbers. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Louisiana cattle industry was troubled by tick fever. It was not until 1934, after the tick problem was over, that cattle numbers began to rise again. Today, Louisiana’s cattle industry continues to grow. Today’s cattlemen raise lean, quality beef to meet consumers’ demands. Beef is also a primary source of heme iron, an important dietary requirement. The by-products from beef animals enable the industry to use 99 percent of every animal.
Most people usually think of beef as a hamburger, steak or a delicious roast for a satisfying and nutritious meal. But there are some edible products that are not so obvious. Did you know that the gelatins in products such as ice cream and yogurt are made from cattle bones? Even inedible by-products of beef cattle are used to feed other animals. Beef fat, protein, and bone meal are used in feeding poultry, pork, dairy cattle and domesticated fish. Items manufactured from inedible beef by-products surround us in our daily environments. The soap you washed your face with this morning; the baseball equipment in the closet; even the sheetrock in the walls of your home — all of these contain beef by-products. By-products are used in all types of mechanical items we use to get where we are going. The medical world also relies on many beef by-products for the pharmaceutical wonders it produces and uses. Cattle have great similarities in organic chemical structure to humans. Our bodies will easily accept a medication or treatment made with these animal components. The beef industry is an active part of our economy. By-products serve as a source material for hundreds of other industries. In other words, without beef as a renewable resource, not only would the butcher be out of work, but also many other businesses.
Beef is an important part of the MyPlate food guidelines because it supplies significant amounts of several key nutrients. Beef supplies high-quality protein. Proteins like those found in beef help to build, maintain and repair body tissues, form the body’s hormones and enzymes and increase resistance to infection and disease. Beef also contains significant amounts of B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin and Vitamin B12. Beef is also one of the best sources of iron, a nutrient often found in inadequate amounts in women, children and athletes. Zinc is another mineral needed by the body to form enzymes as well as insulin. Like iron, sufficient levels of zinc in the body are difficult to maintain when red meat, such as beef, is not included in the diet.
There are continental and English breeds. Continental breeds tend to be larger framed, and English breeds are typically smaller framed. Most cattle in Louisiana have Bos indicus, or Brahman, influence because they possess traits that help them thrive in our climate and environment. Brahman cattle handle heat and humidity very well and have a high tolerance for flies. This breed of cattle does not have very high quality meat, so in Louisiana most cattle producers crossbreed Brahman cattle with cattle that have better quality meat.
For example: Angus x Brahman = Brangus; Hereford x Brahman = Braford.
QUALITY GRADES OF BEEF
Prime: Highest in quality and highest fat content
Choice: Available widely in stores and less fat content than prime
Select: Lowest grade commonly sold in retail
Standard: Lacks marbling and lowest quality
Commercial: Low quality, lacking tenderness, produced from older animals
Utility, Cutter, and Canner will not appear on labels in stores because they are from older cattle with no marbling and used for cheap ground meat.
BEEF CATTLE IN LOUISIANA
Most producers in Louisiana run cow-calf operations. These operations typically consist of a commercial cattle herd, and the producers sell their calves to gain profit. In Louisiana, it is not common for ranchers to feed their calves until maturity unless they are keeping a certain amount of females to become part of their herd one day.
TERMS TO KNOW
Bull - An uncastrated male bovine animal
Castration - Removal of testicles of a male animal
Cow - Mature female bovine animal
Dam - Female parent of a calf
Dystocia - Difficult birth of a calf due to several reasons such as position of calf, size of dam, etc.
Heifer - Young female bovine animal that has not borne a calf
Marbling - Streaks of fat in lean meat that give meat a better flavor
Palatability - Tenderness, juiciness, and flavor
Polled - Cattle that naturally do not have horns
Steer - Castrated male bovine animal
2 pounds beef, cubed
2 10 ¾ ounce cans mushroom soup, undiluted
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons burgundy wine
2 1 ¾ ounce packages dry onion soup mix
Layer in roaster or casserole dish in order given and bake slowly for several hours at 300 degrees or until meat is tender.
Serve over chow mein noodles or rice.
Louisiana Farm Bureau Women Cookbook, Page 128
Submitted by Lavonne Ater of Concordia Parish