Common Questions and Answers about Beef Cattle Production


July 19, 2020 -


Q. How are beef cattle housed?

A. Cattle comfort is a top priority on beef farms. Comfortable, well cared for animals live healthy lives with less stress. Sometimes animals are managed outdoors on pastures or outdoor lots, during colder months, indoor housing may be used to provide mud-free shelter or in the summer to provide shade. Housed animals provide greater control of manure nutrients both from an environmental aspect and to recycle nutrients on crop fields. Well-managed beef farms provide cattle clean bedded areas to rest and access to food and water 24-hours a day. Cattle are free to move about to eat, drink and rest whenever they like.

Q. Who assists beef farmers with animal health needs?

A. Beef producers work with veterinarians to oversee herd health, vaccinations and care for sick animals as needed. Farms are required to have a patient client relationship with a veterinarian for antibiotic treatment of any sick animals. This helps to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment of all animals on the farm.

Q. What is Beef Quality Assurance?

A. Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a nationally coordinated, state implemented program that provides systematic information to U.S. beef farmers and beef consumers about common sense husbandry techniques. BQA uses accepted scientific knowledge to help manage cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. BQA sets production standards for quality and safety that are appropriate to an operation. Key elements include biosecurity, animal health and well-being, production performance, and environmental stewardship. BQA production guidelines are designed to make certain all beef consumers can take pride in the beef they purchase and have confidence in the safety of the entire beef industry.


Q. How do we know beef is high quality and safe to eat?

A. High-quality meat begins with taking good care of cattle on the farm. Meat processors are the next key step in creating a safe and wholesome beef product to eat. Meat that is sold for food is processed at a federally inspected meat facility. Meat processing is one of the most highly regulated industries. Meat facilities have inspectors present every day of production, whereas other food production has inspections once or twice a year. Preventive measures are put in place to reduce or eliminate bacterial contamination. Inspectors and meat processors also screen animals and meat for antibiotic and chemical residues. Meat that tests positive for a residue is not allowed to be sold or used for human consumption.

Q. Are there harmful hormones in meat?

A. Hormones are naturally present in all plants and animals. The level of hormones in meat are essentially the same in meat labeled, “no added hormones”, “organic”, unlabeled or grown using hormone implants. Beef marketed under the label of “no added hormones” or “organic” must be from animals grown without hormone growth promotants and verified through a USDA verification program. Other common foods are naturally much higher in estrogen than implanted beef (i.e. tofu, cabbage, soybean flour). Implanted beef falls far below established safety allowances for hormones by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe to eat. Nonetheless, consumers who are concerned about the use of implants can find beef labeled as “no hormones added” or “organic”. However, since implants significantly reduce the cost and resources used in the production of beef, consumers should be prepared to pay a premium for these products and consider the environmental trade-offs.  Federal regulations prohibit use of added hormones in pork or poultry.  


Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at