February 1, 2018
Living Loving Local (February): Alberta Beef
Why We Celebrate Beef:
We think of Alberta Beef as a national treasure, and we are not alone. Canadians are hungry for beef. On average we each eat 44lbs per year!
All Canadian beef is managed with exceptional attention to detail, and high animal welfare and food safety standards. Nowhere is this truer than Alberta. As Canada`s largest cattle producing province, the volume and economic value of beef far exceeds all other agricultural activities within the province and the country. Just the mention of Alberta conjures up the image of cattle grazing on an open field and farm hands on horseback. Almost half of the beef on our plates has passed through Alberta`s beef industry and some of it travels to lands as far away as Russia and Japan.
Cows occupy a unique role in human history. They are considered one of the oldest forms of wealth and have always been of interest to man because of their ability to provide meat and dairy foods, to be strong work animals, and to easily reproduce themselves, all the while asking for no more than grass to eat! The first evidence of cow domestication appears to be in the Middle East approximately 10,000 years ago.
Cows are members of the ‘Bovinae’ family. This family also includes Gazelles, Buffalo, Bison, Antelopes, Sheep and Goats.
- Alberta is the largest provincial producer of beef in Canada. Beef is their largest agricultural sector (20,000 cattle farms) and worth $3.2 BILLION in farm sales which amounts to a $12.7 BILLION contribution to their economy! Giddy up!
- Saskatchewan is Canada’s second largest cattle producing province.
- Canada raises about 11 million head of cattle per year. Almost 5 million in Alberta alone.
- The average Alberta farm size is 200 head of cattle, in the rest of Canada it is 65. Although, BC is home to Canada’s largest working cattle ranch with a herd of approximately 20,000 head and a land base of more than 500,000 acres.
- 45% of all beef (meat) and cattle (livestock) produced in Canada is exported. We rank 9th in the world as far as exports go. USA, Brazil, and Europe are the world’s top 3 exporters.
Beef is a source of 14 essential nutrients including Iron (needed by every cell in the body), Zinc (for strong immune system), Vitamin D (for bone health),and B- Vitamins (for healthy brain function).
- Cows definitely live to eat, as they spend up to 6 hours a day eating, and over 8 hours a day chewing cud – regurgitated, partially digested food!
- Cows drink approximately a bathtub full of water each day.
- Cows can produce up to 200 pounds of flatus (flatulence and burps) a day! Hence, they are a major source of CO2 in air and often cited as a major factor in global warming.
- Cows never forget their calves. It is quite common to see them licking their grown calves just as they did when they were young.
- There is an estimated 1.3 billion head of cattle and 920 breeds of cow in the world today.