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An industry that impacts the world

The following presentation was put together by sisters Shaylyn and Shyanne Klatt of Elk Point 4-H Beef Club. The pair won first place at the provincial 4-H competition.

The following presentation was put together by sisters Shaylyn and Shyanne Klatt of Elk Point 4-H Beef Club. The pair won a provincial gold in the presentation category at this year’s 4-H Alberta’s Provincial Communications Competition in Sherwood Park.  

ELK POINT - Have you ever thought about the industry that impacts the entire world? The cattle industry is an industry that is present internationally and has an impact to some degree on each and every individual in the world. We are both currently involved with the beef industry and have gained quite a bit of knowledge with the dairy industry.

The cattle industry is one of the biggest industries worldwide. Arguably, this industry is one of the most important because without this industry, the citizens of the world would not have the same lifestyle, foods, or products that we have today. Within the cattle industry, there are two divisions, which are beef cattle and dairy cattle. 

Today, we will enlighten you on the importance of both beef and dairy cattle, how they impact the international economy, and the sustainability of the industry. 

In the dairy industry, as of November 2021, there were 270 million head of dairy cattle in the world. The most common breeds of dairy cattle are: the Friesian Holstein, which similar to a human fingerprint, each one is marked unique, therefore, no two are the same, the Jersey, the Ayrshire, the Milking Shorthorn, the Guernsey, and the Brown Swiss.  

In the beef industry, as of 2021, there were one billion head of beef cattle in the world. Some of the more common beef breeds in Canada are: Angus, Simmental, Limousin, Charolais, and Hereford.   

Milk is an important source of protein, calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, which is also known as riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin D, iodine, niacin, thiamine, zinc, selenium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. Milk also contains the carbohydrate lactose, which is a natural sugar. The benefits of consuming milk are an increased strength of bones, increased muscle mass, and the increased ability to repair muscle.

Expecting mothers should consume milk because the iodine present in the milk supports a baby’s brain development during pregnancy. In 2019, the global consumption of milk alone was 937 trillion litres. Within the worldwide production of milk, 81per cent is cow milk, 15 per cent is buffalo milk, and four per cent is goat, sheep, and camel milk combined.  

Beef is an important, rich source of protein, and contains ten essential nutrients, which include iron, zinc, vitamins B6 and B12, selenium, niacin, phosphorus, choline, and riboflavin. The benefits of consuming beef are it provides energy, helps build muscle, increased ability to heal damaged tissues, support a healthy immune system, and allows for the production of hemoglobin which is a protein that helps to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body by your red blood cells.

In 2019, the global consumption of beef was 134 trillion pounds. 

Each day during a dairy cow’s milking period, which is 305 days or 10 months, she produces an average of eight gallons of milk per day. One individual dairy cow can produce up to 200,000 cups of milk in her lifetime. On a large highly producing farm, a cow is only milking for five or six years. On a small producing farm, a cow can stay highly productive for nine years. In order for a cow to begin the lactating process, she must calve each year.

The global dairy market is primarily dominated by the milk segment, followed by the butter and cheese segments, and then followed by the yogurt and dairy desserts segments. In one cup of milk, milk fats and milk solids account for 13 per cent of the weight of milk with the remaining 87 per cent being water.  

A beef animal should produce 60 per cent or better of their live body weight in meat when butchered. The other 35 per cent is used to make by-products; and the remaining five per cent of the animal is usually waste. Prior to slaughter, a beef animal should be at least 18 months of age. The eight prime cuts of beef are the chuck, rib, short loin, sirloin, round, brisket, plate, flank, and shank. From these cuts of beef, ground hamburger, steaks, roasts, stew meat, and the brisket can all be produced. 

By-products that are made from bones, hooves or horns include non-plastic buttons, traditional style piano keys, and gelatin. By-products from fats and fatty acids include some hand soaps, or dish soaps, some cosmetics, some crayons, and shaving cream. By-products from the hide and hair include sports equipment such as basketballs, footballs, baseballs, and baseball gloves, paintbrushes, decorative rugs and leather. By-products from the intestines include the strings on some instruments and sports equipment that contains strings such as badminton or tennis racquets.

On the dairy side, there are two ways that dairy farmers are allowed to sell the milk that is produced on their farm, depending on which quota they have bought into, the first one being a fluid quota, which allows them to sell milk for human drinking consumption. The second one is the MSQ quota which allows them to supply milk to produce products such as butter, cheese, yogurt, and dairy desserts such as ice cream. There are thousands of varieties that these products can be made into. All dairy operations operate more or less equivalent to one another except for small details here and there. 

Once a cow calves, she is allowed to keep her calf for a while in order to supply it with colostrum and then the calf is removed from the cow and bottle-fed in order for the cow to reach her full milking potential. Every dairy farm gives each cow a 60 day or two month long dry period where the cow is not milking which is essential to the cow’s health and overall happiness.  

In beef cattle, there are two forms of operations, cow/calf operations and feedlot operations. Cow/calf operations are the beginning of the cycle. Cows give birth to calves that are raised on their mothers for around six to eight months and then weaned. Breed depending; the weaning weight is around 600-900 pounds. Then, they are typically sold at an auction market and go into a feedlot operation or are purchased as a replacement animal.

At feedlot operations, cattle are split into weight related pens where they are usually fed a high energy grain diet until they are finished to a market weight. This, once again breed depending, is 1350-1450 pounds.  

With over 150 million households worldwide directly involved in the production of dairy, the global economy is undoubtedly affected. India is the world’s largest milk producer, producing 22 per cent of the global production followed by the USA, Pakistan, Brazil, and China. Canada’s dairy industry is not registered in the top 10 of the largest world milk producers. In 2019, the global milk and milk products exports and imports were equivalent to 76.7 million tonnes. New Zealand is the largest exporter of dairy. China is the largest importer of dairy. 

There are millions of households involved worldwide in beef production with over 39 thousand beef operations in Canada alone. The world’s largest beef producer is the United States producing 21.59 per cent of beef followed by Brazil, China, and the European Union. As of 2020, the global beef exports and imports were equivalent to 24 trillion pounds. Brazil is the largest exporter of beef. China is the largest importer of beef.  

The global demand of dairy and beef by consumers is majorly increasing as a result of the growing population, higher income levels, and health consciousness.  

In conclusion, when you are out driving around the countryside and see a beef or dairy herd, there is more to it than what meets the eye. Beef and dairy cattle are divisions of the cattle industry, which is internationally present. We have discussed the importance of both types of cattle, their impact on the global economy, and the sustainability of the cattle industry.   

We leave you with a quote by E. W. Stewart, “Agriculture was the first occupation of man, and as it embraces the whole earth, it is the foundation of all other industries.”