Cattle-raising is one of the oldest agricultural enterprises in Louisiana, beginning in the early 1700s. The first cattle were brought here after trappers diminished the deer population. Our state’s early cattle were longhorn Spanish cattle, Red Poll and the milking shorthorn. After World War I, cattlemen began specializing in some of the beef breeds they had seen overseas during the war. The cattle industry was severely disrupted during the Civil War when invading armies moved in. The railroads in the early 1900s 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 is growing. Today’s cattlemen are raising lean, quality beef to meet consumers’ demands. Beef is a primary source of heme iron, an important dietary requirement. The by-products we get 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 the bones of the cow? 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 tend to be 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.


  • 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: Lack marbling and lowest quality 

  • Commercial

  • Utility

  • Cutter 

  • Canner 


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. 


  • Bull - An uncastrated male bovine animal

  • Castration - Removal of testicles of a male animal

  • Cow - Mature female bovine animal 

  • 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 

American Farm Bureau Foundation

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