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Frequently Asked Questions

How large is the beef industry in Pennsylvania?

According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture conducted by the National Agriculture Statistics
Service (NASS), Pennsylvania is home to over 25,000 farms raising
over 1.4 million head of cattle valued at almost $390 million.


What options are available for raising beef cattle?


  • Cow/calf operation

  • Backgrounder

  • Stocker

  • Feeder operation

What facilities do I need to raise beef cattle?

Raising beef cattle can be done with minimal facilities. If they are kept outside, a good fence
around the pasture will keep cattle contained and a run-in shed or stand of trees can serve as shade
in summer and shelter in winter.

Feeder cattle can also be kept in a barn, be sure to check with extension or NRCS for space
requirements depending on your situation.

In addition, it is important to have an area where animals can be contained and treated for
health or emergency reasons. This is best done through the use of a corral and chute system
which will restrain the animals for treatment.

What is the gestation period of a beef cow?

The average gestation period for a cow is 283 days, or just over 9 months.

How do I keep my cattle healthy?

Work with a team of experts that includes a nutritionist and veterinarian to develop a plan for
feeding and vaccinating your animals.

How do I prepare my calves to sell?

There are several steps that pay off when selling feeder calves. Calves should be identified
through an ear tag, dewormed, and receive a basic set of vaccinations.

Additionally, it is recommended that calves are backgrounded (introduced to bunk feed) for 30-45
days before selling. Bulls should be castrated and any calves with horns should be dehorned.

Where do I market my calves?

Calves can be sold through the local livestock auction, to other producers for breeding animals,
or directly to a feedlot or backgrounding operation. 

Many producers also choose to direct market beef to consumers either through the sale of whole, halves or quarters or by obtaining the proper retail licenses to sell individual cuts.

How much weight will my animal gain each day?

The average daily gain depends on age, diet, environment and other factors. The overall average rate of
gain will generally be around 3 lbs/day.

How much beef will I get from my animal?

The amount of beef varies with factors such as the size of the calf, breed, and body
composition. Most beef breeds will finish out from 1,200-1,400 lbs., of which approximately
50% will become retail beef products.

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