Saturday, June 15, 2024

Beef Production: Herding, Advantages, Disadvantages, Impact and Issues

Herding is the practice of caring for roaming groups of livestock over a large area of land and the animals are cared for against predators and natural dangers by Cowboys. The animals raised in ranch are mainly cattle’s and they are raised in different ways.

Beef production produced benefits like social benefits, meat, income, ability to convert energy, provision of nation’s wealth and the control of fire disaster.

On the contrary, beef provision is expensive, with a prolonged period of gestation with a high level of risk involved in the production.

Generally, beef production has led to conversion of habitat, polluted water bodies, degradation of the soil and climate change.

However, cattle production would have increased if not for issues like expansion challenges cyclical lower prices, input volatility, continued economic volatility, animal health and poor weather conditions


A Report on Non-traditional Production Systems defined herding as the practice of caring for roaming groups of livestock over a large area of land.

The report acknowledged that Cowboys are responsible for herding and maintaining the health of animals across different ranches.

The Cowboys often ride on horses to do work in the ranch in the course of caring for the herd made of either or both of cattle and sheep. Cowboys are known as vaqueros. In Australia and New Zealand, they are called jackaroos.

Ranchers and cowboys take care of the cattle’s and the other animals toward favorable grazing areas. Herding also involves keeping the herd safe from predators and natural dangers of the landscape.

Beef Production

Beef production has to do with the raising of cattle in ranches and this is for the purpose of producing meat for food. There are many ways beef production can be carried out. This can be done either through open range or ranching.

When ranching is sustainably managed, it can go a long way in achieving conservation benefits. Cattle feed by grazing on the grassland.

Grazing maintains the health of grasslands, improves soil quality with manure, and preserves open space and wildlife habitat.

Advantages of Beef Production

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Small Beef Production Industry Report stated that the production of beef is of numerous importance to man and the economy. These advantages cannot be overemphasized as they include:

Provision of social benefits: Beef production provides social benefits by sustaining livelihoods and community vibrancy in rural areas where grasslands dominate.

Provision of sustainable diet: By working with producers as well as companies and their supply chains to improve the sustainability of beef production, efforts are made to ensure that consumers have choices for a safe, affordable and sustainable diet.

Ability to convert energy: This is one of the most important advantages of beef production.

Cattles are ruminants and so have the ability to eat plants and grasses (herbivorous) and convert them into beef for man to eat as meat.

Provision of by-products: Cattles produces by-products that are industrially processed and used for the production of products like cosmetics, film, buttons, leather, violin strings, medicine for insulin and cholesterol, etc.

Control of fire disaster: Cattle production helps the environment by reducing the risk of range fires. Through the grazing of the land, the length or height of grasses and plants are kept low that would not support fire outbreak and spread.

Maintaining the Ecosystem: Through the constant grazing of the grasses and plants, old plants and grass are grazed down and thereby helping to keep the rangeland healthy.

Safe ground for bees: Rangelands have provided the safest ground or place for bees and they have continued to do well there.

Meat production: Cattle is known to be the largest producer of meat needed by man in the community.

Income provision: Cattle is a very large size of animal and when successfully reared to maturity can be sold for good sum.

Number of herd: Cattle can be reared in small number and this would not have any adverse effect on the animals been reared.

Provision of nation’s wealth: The production of beef helps to provide a good level of Gross Domestic Product to a nation. This can be in the form of tax or otherwise.

Read Also : How Fortified Molasses helps for Survival Feeding of Beef Cattle

Disadvantages of Beef Production

Despite the advantages mentioned of beef production, the report of the advantages and disadvantages of small beef production industry also pointed some of the disadvantages to include:

Level of risks: The production of cattle involves as many risks as possible. The risks starts from the calving stage to the stage of maturity.

Unstable efficiency: The efficiency of a beef animal in terms of production and otherwise is not as stable as that of other livestock.

Gestation period: The gestation period for cattle is about 283 days that is between 9 – 10 months. This period is described as very long before the owner can begin to benefit.

It is expensive to start: The production of cattle is expensive. Apart from the fact that they feed on plants, the medication and other necessary attention demanded by the animal is expensive and this makes it difficult for the poor to venture into the business.

Impact of Beef Production


The production of beef (cattle) has produced several distinct and significant impacts on the environment. The Report of Ranching, National Geographic Society stated that most of these impacts have great hazardous effects on the environment. Some of these impacts are:

Habitat Conversion: As the production of beef seemed to be in the increase, the land area meant for this purpose also seemed to be in the increase. More and more agricultural lands are used to raise the cattle than any other domesticated animal.

In addition, the land to plant the grasses and crops for the animals is also on the increase. This has led to the deforestation and overgrazing of the land. In so doing, there is a gradual conversion of the habitat meant for all into mainly growing cattle.

Water pollution: The pollution of water sources have been on and this have been sometimes caused by disposal of cattle production waste that were not properly treated. Sometimes the sediments that come from poor grazing management go a long way in contaminating surface water and ground water.

Meanwhile, the growing of cattle requires so much of water, part of which is used to take care of the animals; the other left is used to grow the grasses and crops used to feed the animals.

Industrial pollution: Globally, the production of cattle and its by-products have been on the increase. As a result, more and more cattle’s are being slaughtered and more by-products are being produced and this has led to the production of leather from leather industries.

When the waste from the slaughterhouse and tanneries which are rich in organic matter, heavy metals and caustic solutions are not appropriately or properly treated, will lead to industrial pollution.

Soil degradation: Cattle as a matter of fact are heavy animals with hooves that go a long way in supporting soil degradation.

Degradation of the soil can result from the turning of forest into pasture, overgrazing of the land and over farming the land with grasses and crops for the animal which will gradually lead to the removal of the top soil.

Climate change: The production of cattle leads to a considerable effect on climate change as research has showed that about 7% – 18% of greenhouse gases (methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide) are produced by ruminant animals.

High level of consumption: Going by the size of cattle, they are expected to eat much. To this end in view, cattle has been said to consume so much of the grains produced globally, thereby depriving man of the quantity that is due him.

Issues Facing Beef Producers

The beef producers have been faced with so many challenges in the course of producing the cattle’s under their watch.

The challenges according to Rutherford (2016) militate against the successes of beef production. Some of the challenges according to the author are:

Expansion Challenges: At times, the farmer may want to expand his herd (in number) and this may not be possible due to the lack of space.

A lot of space is needed for the production of cattle and this is out of reach of the farmer. Having this problem at hand will constraint the farmer from expanding his farm.

Cyclically Lower Prices: Cyclical lower prices have to do with having the prices of the cattle going up at a period of time and falling at another time.

Such scenario does not make the farmers have steady price of how to trade the business. At point where price is low, the farmers are not happy and then they are not encouraged in the business.

Input Volatility: Inputs are the resources that are used in the production of cattle. These inputs are most times scarce and out of reach, they are of various prices that are also not stable.

This ill condition makes it difficult for the farmer to plan for his farm, thus constituting a challenge to him.

Continued Economic Volatility: The economies of nations are not stable and this affects the prices of goods and services in the nation.

This will affect cattle producers in a number of ways, but particularly as the beef business continues to aggressively work to expand export markets. Such volatility will not permit the people to plan and get things done in an ideal manner.

Animal Health: Animal health is an important factor as far as cattle rearing is concerned.

Morbidity and mortality, particularly with stockers and cattle feeders, remains an ongoing concern. There is a need for special care in terms of medication and proper feeding of the animals. There is still an advocacy by the industry to push for bigger, fast growing cattle

Consumer Retailer Perceptions: This has to do with the way or reasoning of the retailers. The retailers want to see the price of cattle as that different from what the producers would want to see for.

The retail prices are conditioned or perceived by consumers to drop as against the price of production, thus keeping the producers in a tight corner of producing and making no profit, if losses don’t end up being the case at the end of the day.

Political Uncertainty: Countries are usually faced with political uncertainty in their policies.

On-coming government may be coming in with a policy that may make a ban or deprivation of one input or the other as it concerns cattle production.

Where such policy does not favour the farmer, a problem is created. This accounts for why farmers are steadily at panic as governments change, reason being that the political risk for beef producers will be high.

Veterinary Feed Directive: This has to do with how the animals could be appropriately fed and medicated since this has not been the case, hence seen as a challenge. Also, efforts should be on ground to ensure that the improved feeds and medication continue to be in place.

Poor weather conditions: Adverse weather condition is one of the factors posing issues to the development of cattle production in most communities.

This constraint is beyond the control of man and as a result when adverse weather condition prevails, the farmer ends up losing some of their herds. For this reason, beef producers will be well advised to plan and prepare now for that eventuality

In summary, herding is the practice of caring for roaming groups of livestock over a large area of land which could be a ranch or a range where they are taken care of by ranchers or cowboys.

Beef is the main product of cattle and the production gives rise to beef production, social benefits, income to farmers, ability to convert energy which couldn’t have been possible by man, provision of nation’s wealth and the control of fire disaster.

Cattle production brings about negative effects like conversion of habitat, pollution of water bodies, industrial pollution, degradation of the soil and climate change. Inability to expand in space, continued economic volatility and poor weather condition are some of the issues limiting the growth of ranching business.

In summary, major animals produced in the ranch are cattle’s and they have produced man with many advantages and of course some disadvantages. Ranching has so much impacted on the environment and faced with some issues.

Read Also : Human Waste Complete Management Guide


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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