Six Fun Facts About Beef and Beef Cattle

Kansas cattle rancher

Did you know White Castle was started in Wichita in 1921? It’s the oldest hamburger chain in the country! And Kansas City was once home to the second-largest stockyard in the country. There’s a lot of beef heritage in the state. Here are a few more fun facts about beef production you probably don’t know.

1. Beef Is Healthy

Beef is rich in protein, which provides energy and helps build muscle – great for athletes, growing children and anyone on the go (which is all of us, right?!). Beef also provides 10 other essential nutrients, including zinc (an immune system booster), vitamins B6 and B12 (great for energy), selenium (an antioxidant), iron, niacin, phosphorous, choline and riboflavin. Lean cuts of beef are also an important part of a heart healthy diet.

2. Beef Production Is Sustainable

You may have heard that cattle contribute to greenhouse gases. Yes, cattle produce methane, but they only account for 3.3 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. The USDA did a study and did not find beef production was a significant contributor to climate change. (Fossil fuel use is a far bigger culprit.)

3. Beef Production Is Useful

When you think about what cattle is used for, meat probably springs to mind, but production includes much more. More than 99 percent of the animal is used — 65 percent goes toward meat production and the other 34 percent goes toward byproducts like leather, gelatin, cosmetics and medicines.

KLA Cow Graphic

4. Beef Is Popular

Americans eat an average of 55 pounds of beef per person, per year. It’s the second-most popular meat in America, after chicken. (Estimates are based on data on food availability from the USDA.) With so many mouth-watering recipes like Kansas City-style barbecue, juicy hamburgers and tender steaks, we can see why!

5. Beef Cattle Have Fascinating Senses

Cattle have panoramic vision and can see about 330 degrees around them. However, they don’t have very good depth perception and they can’t see the color red. (Red bullfighting capes are for drama. The bulls respond more to the movement.) Cattle have a great sense of smell and can detect odors up to six miles away. They’re also equipped with about 25,000 taste buds. (Humans have about 10,000.)

6. Beef Cattle Have Interesting Habits

Cattle are great swimmers and have successfully forded rivers. However, they’re not great sleepers. They only sleep about four hours a day, although you wouldn’t know that by looking at them, because they spend up to 12 hours a day lying down (maybe because they’re tired from not getting enough sleep?!).

As you can see, there’s plenty to appreciate when it comes to beef. We’re thankful for the Kansas ranchers who care for their cattle and help bring so much to our tables (and clothes, health care and so much more). So, celebrate beef and the people who raise it!

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