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Livelihood

Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated grazing animals occupying the prairies. These large herbivores are raised by farmers and ranchers for a variety of reasons. Most cattle raised as livestock for meat production graze in the prairie until they are about a year old and are then transported to feedlots to be fed until they are harvested for meat production. Dairy cattle are used to produce milk and other dairy foods. Humans also produce other products that come from cattle such as leather for shoes and purses, and manure for fertilizer.

Cattle forage mostly on grass and travel in large groups called herds. Many ranchers in the prairie manage cattle by burning their prairie pastures so that the cattle have the opportunity to eat the new grass that is growing after being burned. If only a part of the prairie pasture is burned, the cattle will go to where fire occurred and eat the new grass that is growing. This is called patch burning. Females are called cows, males are called bulls, and babies are called calves. It is common for cattle producers to castrate bulls so that they cannot reproduce, these are called steers. Females that have not had a calf are called heifers. Females that have had a calf are called cows. Males that have not been castrated are called bulls.

There are an estimated 1.3 billion cattle in the world today and can be found on ranches throughout the prairie. The value of the United State’s beef industry is estimated $73 billion and there is about 26 billion pounds of beef produced annually in the U.S. The U.S. exports about 7 percent of its beef production.