How long does a cow actually live? I’m so glad you asked! Today on the blog, I’m going to be sharing all about the different types of cows and how long we get to care for them at our farm.
They are amazing animals that are a very important part of our food system. Cows come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, and each breed has its unique characteristics. I spend a lot of time with our herd and watching them grow and become mamas is one of the best parts of my jobs!
How Long Does a Cow Live?
As someone who is not in the industry asking this question, you may think this is a very simple answer. The truth is that it depends! When it comes to lifespan, different types of cows have varying life expectancies and purposes on the homestead. I’m going to talk about the lives of the cows on our ranch and also the process we go through with each new generation!
Meat Or Beef Cows
Meat or beef cows live for 1.5-2 years in the commercial beef industry. However, the natural life of beef cattle is between 15-20 years. Heifers and cows (female cattle) often live for between 5-6 years as they breed to produce the next generation of beef cattle. Let me explain our process!
At our family’s farm, we have a deep appreciation for our cows and take great pride in the care we provide them from birth to the end of their life. Calving season is in March and it is a special (and also very demanding) time for me and my family. We get to witness new life and start the process of caring for another generation of cows. Calving season means all hands on deck to make sure the mamas and calves have everything they need to survive the first few moments of their life.
March in North Dakota is still very cold, and it’s important that we make sure the calves stay warm enough to survive. I’m going to write a separate post about this in the neat future.
From a young age, we ensure that our cows receive the necessary nutrition and medical care. At 4-6 months old, we start the process of weaning them from their mother’s milk. Male calves that will be raised for meat and not breeding, will be castrated at 3-4 weeks old. Our heifers are bred at around 15 months old to produce the next generation of meat cows, and we carefully monitor their pregnancy to ensure their health and the health of their offspring!
The Life Of A Cow
During their time on our farm, the cows are provided with a balanced diet of either grass or grain, depending on the season! We make sure they have access to clean water and provide them with shelter. Cows are checked daily for any signs of illness or injury, and we have a veterinarian on call for any necessary medical attention. To put it short, they are cared for 24/7!!
When our cows reach their target weight at 18-24 months of age, they are considered “finished”. This is when we will begin sending them to the processing facility. While this can be a difficult time for us as ranchers, we ensure that all of our animals are treated respectfully and humanely. We take pride in knowing that the meat from our cows is the highest quality and is enjoyed by many families all across the country!
What Are Cows Used For?
Many people may not know that cows aren’t just used for meat and dairy! A cow is used for daily products and essentials that you probably use every single day. For example, the hide is used for the production of leather, and other parts are used in the manufacturing of various products such as soap, glue, and even cosmetics!
We take pride in knowing our cows deeply from birth to the end of their life. While the lifespan of beef cows in the commercial industry may be short, we ensure that our cows live a healthy and happy life during their time spent with us!
Don’t miss out on other related posts:
- Is Buying A Whole Cow Worth It?
- What Is A Heifer?