Cattle 101: History, Breeds, Fun Facts, Terms


Cattle 101: History, Breeds, Fun Facts, Terms

Basic Terms

  • Cow:   Aadult female that has produced a calf
  • Bull:  Male animal
  • Steer:  Male animal that has been castrated and cannot breed
  • Heifer:  Young female that has not produced a calf
  • Veal:   Calves that are raised to 475-500 pounds

Over 98% of the beef animal is used when it is processed. About 45% of the animal is used for meat and the rest is used for other byproducts including leather, china, glue, film, soap, pharmaceuticals, insulin, gelatins.

The meat from cattle is called beef. The average American eats about 65 pounds of beef each year.

Fun Facts

• Cattle produce about 25 billion pounds of meat each year.

• The combined value of the cattle and beef industry is $200 billion.

• The hide from one cow can make 144 baseballs, 20 footballs or 12 basketballs.

• Disneyland (CA) sells over 4 million hamburgers each year.

History of Cattle
Not long ago cattle were used for many purposes including meat, milk, and labor. Today beef cattle are raised primarily to provide people with meat, and hundreds of useful by-products. Most cattle graze on grassland that is steep, hilly, dry or rocky and not suitable for building houses or growing crops. The main reason cattle are raised in different climates and settings all over the world is because they can thrive on low quality rangeland feed and grasses.

Cattle are descended from a wild ancestor called the aurochs. The aurochs were huge animals which originated on the subcontinent of India and then spread into China, the Middle East, and eventually northern Africa and Europe. Aurochs are one of the animals painted on the famous cave walls near Lascaux, France. People started domesticating aurochs between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago. Cattle were domesticated after sheep, goats, pigs, and dogs.

Cattle were first brought to the western hemisphere by Columbus on his second voyage to the New World in 1493. Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez took offspring of those same cattle to Mexico in 1519. In 1773, Juan Bautista de Anza brought 200 head of cattle to California to supply the early California missions.

Cattles Amazing Stomachs

Cattle are ruminants. This means they have one stomach with four separate compartments. Their digestive system allows them to digest plant material by repeatedly regurgitating it and chewing it again as cud. This digestive process allows cattle to thrive on grasses, other vegetation, and feed. A cow chews its cud for about eight hours a day. When an animal chews its cud it is a sign of health and contentment. Other ruminant animals include deer, elk, sheep, and goats.

Life Cycle

Many ranchers run cow-calf operations. They keep a herd of cows to produce calves. The cows are bred to calve in the spring or fall. Cows, like humans, are pregnant for nine months.


On average a calf will be 70-80 lbs. at birth.

Within the first couple hours after birth, newborn calves will be up and wanting to nurse.

Colostrum, a cow’s first milk after birth, is very important to a newborn and should be consumed as soon as possible.

Colostrum contains antibodies vital for the newborn and has twice the calories of regular milk.

Calves are born with no protection from diseases, so their antibodies come from their mother’s milk.

Calves absorb antibodies from the colostrum directly into their bloodstream through pores in their intestinal lining. Within the first few hours the intestinal walls begin to thicken and the pores close up. By the time they are six hours old they can only  absorb a fraction of what they need.

After filling their stomachs calves may feel like bucking and playing.


For the first three weeks of the calf’s life they only drink their mother’s milk, because their rumen is not yet fully developed. Rumen is one of the stomach chambers in ruminant animals. Humans do not have rumens. Between 3-8 weeks the calf goes through a transitional period where they start eating some hay and grass along with the milk. After eight weeks the calf’s rumen should be fully functioning. The rumen will grow 25 times larger from birth to adulthood.

Tagging, Branding & Earmarks

A newborn calve is commonly tagged. Each ear tag has an individual number which helps ranchers pair the mother with their young and track the calf through its lifecycle. Within the first few months, the calves will be branded. A brand is an identification mark for cattle. It can either be a hot iron brand or a freeze brand. Some operations use earmarks, as an additional way to identify their cattle. During branding all calves are vaccinated to help prevent disease. The young male calves are castrated during the first few months. After castration, they are referred to as steers.

Adulthood – Finishing

Calves are usually sold after they are weaned, at about six-eight months. After weaning, cattle are sent to feedlots for approximately 120 days where they are fed a high-energy ration of grain and hay. After this time called finishing, the cattle are sent to a harvest plant.

To keep the herd size approximately the same, ranchers save replacement heifers (females). The steers (males) will be sent to the feedlot while a few heifers are kept behind to raise and later produce calves themselves. Other heifers will go to the feedlot as well. Steers are more common in the beef industry, because they grow faster and naturally have more muscle.

The ideal breeding age for heifers is at least 14-16 months of age, depending on breed. Heifers should be about 65% of their mature weight before breeding.

Cattle Breeds

There are numerous breeds of cattle raised in the United States. Some breeds have been around for centuries, while others have been developed in the last couple of decades by mixing older breeds. Each breed is characterized by different traits suchs as size, weather tolerance, color, markings, hair length, and temperament.

There are two classifications; Bos indicus and Bos taurus. Bos taurus includes British and Continental. British breeds, also known as English breeds, are smaller in size than Continental breeds. These breeds are the foundation of the United States beef herds. Common English breeds include Angus, Red Angus, Shorthorn, and Hereford.

Continental breeds, also called Exotics, originated in Europe. They are larger in size, lean, muscular, and can tolerate hot climates. Continental breeds include Charolais, Limousin, Simmental, and Salers.

Bos indicus are humped cattle originating from South Central Asia. They are adapted to the stresses of heat, humidity, parasites, and poorly digestible forages. Bos indicus breeds are often found in the southern United States. Common bos indicus breeds are Brahman, Brangus, Beefmaster, Simbrah, and Santa Gertrudis.

Beef Nutrition

Beef is a nutritionally rich food and an excellent source of ten essential nutrients. A three-ounce serving of lean beef contributes more than 10% of the daily recommended value of protein, zinc, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorous, choline, niacin, vitamin B6, iron and riboflavin. Beef is among the top food sources for protein, zinc and vitamin B12.

Some common types of lean beef cuts include: top sirloin steak, 95% lean ground beef, rib eye steak, T-Bone and tenderloin steak. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Database shows that many cuts of beef are 20% leaner than they were 15 years ago. Half of the fatty acids found in beef are monounsaturated, the same “good healthy fat” found in olive oil.

Beef By-Products

Besides meat and milk, cows provide us with hundreds of important by-products. Almost the entire beef animal can be used in some way. From a typical 1,000 pound steer, slightly over 40% of the animal is used for retail beef and the remaining 60% is processed into by-products.

Beef by-products are anything made from a beef animal other than meat. You probably use more beef by-products than you think! Some edible examples include margarine, gelatin and marshmallows. Non-edible by-products include leather, soap, cosmetics, crayons and buttons. Cattle also contribute to the health industry. Here are some examples.

Bone, Horn, Hooves, and Gelatin: combs, gelatin candy (Gummy Bears), photographic film, steel ball bearings, fine bone china, pet food, and vitamin capsules/gel coatings.

Hide and Hair: insulation, paintbrushes, glue for bookmaking and band-aides, clothes, shoes, luggage, saddles, furniture, automobiles, volleyballs, basketballs, and baseball gloves.

Fats and Fatty Acids: shampoo, shaving creams, deodorants, candles, crayons, floor wax, detergents, hydraulic brake fluid, plastics, insecticides, paints, perfumes, and synthetic rubber.

Vocabulary Terms

Auroch: the ancient ancestor of domesticated cattle.

Beef By-products: anything made from a beef animal other than meat.

Bovine: scientific name for cattle.

Brand: identification mark on cattle; either hot iron or freeze brand.

Breed: group of animals that have the same ancestry and characteristics.

Bull: a mature male who has not been castrated.

Calf: young animal, either male or female, less than one year.

Calve: to give birth to a calf.

Castration: to remove the testicles of male cattle.

Cow: a mature female that has given birth, usually 2 or more years of age.

Cow-calf operation: a ranch or farm where cows are raised and bred to produce calves.

Cud: the portion of food that an animal regurgitates to chew for the second time.

Dual-purpose: being used for both milk and meat production.

Earmark: identification tool where part of the ear is removed to show ownership.

Feedlot: also know as a feedyard; a type of animal feeding operation used for finishing animals before they are ready for harvest.

Finish: to ready cattle for market, by feeding to a desired weight.

Forages: plant material, mainly leaves and stems, eaten by livestock.

Heifer: a young female cow that has not yet had her first calf. Most heifers have their first calf when they are about two years old, depending on the breed.

Horned: born with horns, usually removed at a young age.

Polled: born without horns, naturally hornless.

Regurgitation: controlled flow of stomach contents back into the throat and mouth.

Roan: an even mixture of white and pigmented hairs, normally red or black.

Rumen: the largest compartment in a ruminants stomach, fermentation and break down of food occurs in the rumen.

Ruminants: mammals that chew cud and have a complex, usually four-chambered stomach.

Steer: a young male calf which has been castrated before reaching sexual maturity. Steers are usually raised for beef.

Tag: a numbered plastic identification tool.

Wean: when a young animal is taken off its mother’s milk.

Yearling: animals approximately 1 year old.


Sustainable pork farming is real

Sustainable pork farming is real

kremer_feature-sustainable-farmingPriest or pig farmer? Those were the only two callings that Russ Kremer ever considered. And really, it wasn’t even close.

Raised in the hamlet of Frankenstein in central Missouri, a few miles from where he still lives, Kremer wasn’t even old enough to attend grade school when his father gave him the job of bottle-feeding orphaned piglets in the house. By age six, he had graduated to tending sows and their litters. At eight, Kremer’s father handed him a recently weaned female and said, “She’s yours.” Kremer named her Honeysuckle and raised her like a pet, often lying beside her in her stall. She gave birth to 15 young — a challenge because she only had 13 nipples. Normally, at least three piglets would have died, but Kremer switched the babies on and off their mother during the critical early weeks. All 15 survived.

For a time as a teenager, Kremer, a devout Catholic, considered becoming a priest. “I was always a person of faith,” he says. “I went to Catholic schools and was inspired by the work priests did to help people.” Even today, his voice, a soft twang, can take on reverential tones when he talks about his animals, and he’s been a life-long bachelor. But when he realized that he could never minister to a congregation and raise a herd of swine at the same time, he headed off to the University of Missouri, got a degree in animal husbandry, and returned home.

Instead of the catechism, he followed the canon of modern agribusiness.

To get more profit from the land, which his family had farmed for five generations, Kremer erected a long, low warehouse-like building and cycled 2,400 hogs a year through his operation. It wasn’t pretty. The sows that produced his piglets spent their entire lives confined to gestation and farrowing crates — metal enclosures barely larger than the animals themselves, which barely allowed them to move. The piglets grew up cheek by jowl in metal pens. Stressed and sickly, the animals were fed a constant diet of commercial feed laced with low levels of antibiotics. Slatted concrete floors allowed their excrement to drop into a vast pit below the barn. Massive fans pushed out poisonous gasses from the pit. In the mid-1980s, a thunderstorm struck in the predawn hours of a Sunday morning, knocking out power. Within a few hours, more than 200 hogs suffocated from the gas. Instead of going to church that morning, Kremer dug a pit and buried them.

“Raising pigs like that was the worst mistake I ever made,” he says.

The last straw came in 1989, when a 700-pound boar, eager to service a receptive sow, sliced open Kremer’s knee with one of its tusks. The leg became infected and ballooned to twice its normal size. Doctors treated him with a half dozen different antibiotics, but the virulent Streptococcus suis bacteria proved to be resistant to all of them. Kremer developed heart palpitations. His family was told to prepare for the worst. A last-ditch intravenous regimen of an extremely potent drug subdued the bacteria and saved his life. The germs that nearly killed him, he learned from his doctor, were identical to ones his veterinarian had found in dead pigs from his barns — the same pigs he had been feeding antibiotics that made their bacteria more resistant to treatment. (For more on the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in livestock, see “You Want Superbugs With That?“)

“Right then and there, I got rid of every pig I owned. I said to myself, ‘What the hell have I done?’ At first I was going to give up raising hogs altogether. But it was all I ever wanted to do in my life.”

So Kremer did the unthinkable: he bought new pigs and began to raise them without antibiotics. “I went cold turkey. Everyone I talked to told me I was crazy,” he said. “All my pigs would die.”

They were wrong. The first drug-free year, Kremer saved $16,000 in veterinary bills, and his hogs flourished. Unfortunately, the hog market collapsed in the late 1990s. One after the other, small family hog farmers in the county went out of business, often unable to sell pigs at any price to slaughterhouses designed to handle thousands of animals a day.

To survive, Kremer had to reinvent his approach to farming a second time. He and 33 other hog producers formed the Ozark Mountain Pork Cooperative to market their meat directly to commercial customers at premium prices. Members agreed to abide by a set of strict regulations: no antibiotics would be fed to the pigs. The animals had to have access to pasture. Their diet would consist of unadultered corn, soy, and oats. Sows could not be confined to crates. At slaughter, Ozark pigs would be killed painlessly after being rendered insentient by carbon dioxide gas. “I called it retro hog raising,” Kremer says.

Joe Maxwell was one of the early converts. His family abandoned hog farming after four generations in the business. “The model didn’t work. Small farmers were closing down, going bankrupt, and driven off the land. The market was broke and nobody else was going to fix it,” he says. “Banding together and selling a value-added product was the way forward. And our added value would come from building a model that was sustainable — for the land, the animals, and us.” The Maxwells now raise 5,000 pigs annually on 200 acres and plan to increase their herd by one-third this year.

Because of his hectic schedule as president of the cooperative, Kremer, now 55, produces only 1,200 pigs a year, about half as many as he did when raising them in confinement. “It doesn’t mean that I might not go back up to 2,400,” he says. “We have enough land to expand and still do it the right way.” At first sight, his farmland looks more like a forest reserve than an agricultural operation. Over 90 percent of the terrain consists of steep ridges covered in mature oaks and cedars. The clear areas are dotted with pastures and ponds. On a spring morning, a hundred or so three-month-old piglets the size of obese beagles cavort in a barn whose floor is covered in a deep layer of straw. White, brown, red, black, spotted, all are crosses of heritage varieties like Tamworths, Berkshires, and Durocs, bred for well-marbled, tasty meat, physical stamina, and good mothering instincts.

The piglets greet Kremer eagerly, nudging his legs with their snouts and nibbling the tops of his boots and the cuffs of his blue jeans. Others play a vigorous game of king of the mountain on a large round bale of straw, while a few tugged, puppy-like, on a tire swing suspended from the rafters. The barn doors stand open. Outside, small herds of piglets run in circles and frolic for sheer pleasure on a green field of rye on the valley floor.

Kremer, whose evangelism for the coop has earned him the moniker “Pope of Pork,” steers his Chevy four-by-four pickup up a muddy track and sermonizes. He believes his approach to agriculture — not the antibiotic-heavy confinement operations favored by agribusiness — is what will feed the future. “We’re sustainable, and we can sustain the world,” he says, stopping the truck beside a woodlot dotted here and there with metal hog houses. “In the fall, we let the pigs in the forest eat the acorns,” he says. “These rocky ridges are excellent for raising pigs. Pigs like to root. Concrete slats just don’t cut it. We had to relearn what pigs were put on this earth to do. We try to mimic nature.”

For its first several years, the Ozark Mountain Pork Cooperative lost money and went nearly $1 million into debt. Kremer spent most of his time traveling around the country trying to convert potential customers to his way of raising meat. A watershed moment came in 2006 when Whole Foods Market began carrying Ozark’s pork in Midwestern stores, quickly followed by Chipotle Mexican Grill and D’Artagnan, a New-York-city-area purveyor of gourmet food.

“About a dozen years ago, we decided to find farmers that were raising meat in a better way — naturally and without antibiotics,” says Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle. “We are constantly making efforts to look for better suppliers, and we loved Russ and his dedication.” Arnold says that Kremer’s story helped inspire an ad that aired during the 2012 Grammy Awards, in which Willie Nelson covers Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” singing “I’m going back to the start” as a cartoon pig farmer decides to abandon his massive factory-farming operation and return to the old-school model.

Today, Kremer’s coop is profitable. Members are paid according to a formula that takes the cost of feed into account and guarantees a fair wage and a reasonable return on the farmer’s investment. This spring, that means they’ll receive about $1.15 a pound for their finished hogs, compared to the 85 cents that commodity growers are getting — or about $50 more per animal.

The cooperative has now grown to include 60 local farmers, and Kremer expects a few more to join this year. The group processes about 1,300 pigs every week. Kremer has no aspirations to have the coop grow bigger. “I want to keep it a size where I know all the producers personally,” he says. A network of farmers that Kremer is associated with recently purchased its own processing facility and slaughterhouse and is taking steps to make it sustainable and non-polluting. Soybeans are an important source of food for hogs, but nearly all the soy sold in the United States today is genetically modified, so the network also plans to build its own micro soybean mill and commission farmers to raise non-GMO soy for its feed.

Kremer, the lifelong bachelor, has even managed to find time for a girlfriend.

After leaving his farm, Kremer drives for about 10 minutes along winding gravel roads to the barn that houses a herd of about 20 sows; all have recently given birth. He enters, clucks his tongue and says, “Hi, guys,” before seating himself on a bale of straw. A 400-pound sow occupying a nearby pen warily keeps an eye on her 13 piglets, each less than a day old and tiny enough to be held in a cupped hand. Then she slowly settles, forelegs first, then back legs, before rolling to her side.

“See how careful she is not to lie on her babies,” Kremer says. The sow’s eyelids became heavy and eventually close as her litter suckles. Every so often she emits a deep, quiet grunt. “I can sit here and watch these guys for hours,” Kremer says, the permanent smile lines etched around his eyes deepening. “They are so beautiful and happy, and curious and social. Even at this age, they all have distinct personalities. And I know they will never be stressed or fearful throughout their lives until they meet their maker.” Amen.


Beef Trivia


CowThe world is projected to produce 58.625 million metric tons of beef in 2014.  If realized, this will be the most beef that the world has ever produced

Brazil is the world’s largest producer of beef. (2010)

Hernando Cortez brought the first cattle to North America in 1519 (Columbus brought cattle with him on his 2nd voyage to the New World, but not to North America).

There are 9 people in the U.S. listed on with the last name ‘Beef’
(Mark Morton, ‘Gastronomica’, Fall 2010)

The character of ‘Uncle Sam’ is modeled after Sam Wilson, a meatpacker from Troy, New York. During the War of 1812, the meat he shipped to the government was stamped ‘U.S. Beef.’ Soldiers began to call this beef Uncle Sam’s beef.

More beef is consumed on Memorial Day than any other day, with the 4th of July and Labor Day usually tieing for 2nd place.

beef-tboneTop 10 list of beef entrees (excluding burgers) in the U.S.

1) Prime Rib
2) Strip Steak
3) Filet Mignon/Tenderloin
4) Roast Beef
5) Rib/Ribeye Steak
6) Meatloaf
7) Sirloin/Top Butt Steak
8) Chicken Fried Steak
9) Meatballs
10) T-Bone/Porterhouse Steak

Total U.S. beef consumption:

• 2011: 25.6 billion pounds
• 2010: 26.4 billion pounds
• 2009: 26.8 billion pounds
• 2008: 27.3 billion pounds
• 2007: 28.1 billion pounds
• 2006: 28.1 billion pounds
• 2005: 27.8 billion pounds
• 2004: 27.8 billion pounds
• 2003: 27.0 billion pounds
• 2002: 27.9 billion pounds
(USDA Economic Research Service)

Average Annual per Capita U.S. Beef Consumption
(by retail weight)
Year Pounds
Source: USDA

In 2007, 97% of commercial restaurants served beef in one form or another.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

Over 400 million steak sandwiches were served in 2001 – an increase of 25% over 2000.

Argentinians eat more beef than anyone else, about 140 pounds a year per person. (The U.S. average is about half that).


U.S.D.A. Beef Quality grades are determined by estimating the age of the animal, the amount of fat marbling (determined by looking at the ribeye at the 12th rib) and by the texture, color and appearance of the ribeye. U.S.D.A. quality grading is optional.

According to the National Cattleman’s Beef Association only about 2% of all U.S. beef carcases submitted for grading are quality graded Prime.  Prime grade is the most tender, juicy and flavorful grade, and most Prime grade beef is sold to the restaurant industry.

About 44% of the beef submitted for quality grading is Choice grade (the next grade down from Prime), and this is what is usually available in retail markets.

Making Sense of the Meatcase

Making Sense of the Meatcase

What’s for supper? Whether you’re in a hurry or have time to spend in the kitchen, pork offers a variety of delicious options. Use this guide to help decide what cut will make the most of your meal.

Quick meals – cuts that cook in 30 minutes or less

ChopsChops: Loin, rib,
sirloin, top
loin, blade
Cooking Tip: Paired with your favorite veggies, cubes of boneless chops or tenderloin make great kabobs.
GroundPorkGround Pork HamSteaksHam Steaks
Cooking Tip: For delicious pork burgers on the grill, form ground pork into 1/2-inch thick patties and broil 4 inches from heat for about 8 minutes.

Time on your side – cuts that cook in 30 minutes or more

RibsRibs: Back, spareribs, country-style RoastsRoasts: Loin, ham, fresh leg, shoulder
Cooking Tip: Don’t boil ribs prior to grilling or roasting. They will keep their flavor and tenderness better if slow-cooked in the oven or over indirect heat on the grill.

Know Your Pork Cuts

Cuts of Pork

Pork: Did you know?

Did you know

Did you know that… The word, “earmark,” which we now use to mean ‘to designate’ or ‘to set aside for a particular purpose’, actually has a very simple origin. For centuries, farmers marked their livestock with distinctive notches in the animals’ ears. Earmark in the literal sense first appeared in English around 1591, but the use of earmark in the figurative sense ‘to designate’ arose only in the late 19th century.

DID you know? (Formerly offers over 1,700 pork recipes to consumers, along with information on all things pork.





did-you-know-weightsDid you know that…Women who cut calories but included more protein, including six ounces of lean pork per day, kept more muscle mass while losing weight than women who consumed the same amount of calories but less protein. Consuming a higher-protein diet also helped retain a sense of satiety or fullness after meals, according to the Checkoff-funded project conducted by Purdue University.

did-you-know-dollarsWhat’s the top price ever paid for a hog? The highest known price paid for a hog was $220,000 at the 2001 Summer Type Conference. The pig, bred by Todd Creager of Ohio, sold to Lifeline Genetics of Oklahoma.



did-you-know-pigsWhat did President Harry Truman have to say about hogs? “No man should be allowed to be president who does not understand hogs.”



did-you-know-porkchopFact: Pork can be part of a restricted-fat, low-cholesterol diet.
Yes! Today, ounce for ounce, pork ternderloin is as lean as a skinless chicken breast. Six of the most common pork cuts have, on average, 16 percent less fat and 27 percent less saturated fat than 19 years ago. Pork also is an excellent source of protein, thiamin, vitamin B6, phosphorus and niacin, and a good source of potassium, riboflavin and zinc. For more nutrition info, go to

did-you-know-dinnerFact or hogwash? Pork tenderloin is just as lean as a skinless breast.

Research shows that ounce for ounce, pork tenderloin is lean as a skinless chicken breast. A 3-ounce serving of pork tenderloin has only 2.98 grams of total fat and 1.02 grams of saturated fat.


did-you-know-chinaDid you know that… As popular as pork is in America, it is not the United States, but China, that is the world’s No. 1 producer and consumer of fresh pork.

Did you know that… In ancient China, fresh pork enjoyed royal status. Around 4000 B.C., the Chinese people were ordered to raise and breed hogs by a royal decree from the emperor of China.

Did you know that… The ancient Chinese so hated to be separated from fresh pork that the departed sometimes were accompanied to the grave with their hogs.

did-you-know-barrelDid you know that… Pork is the world’s most widely eaten meat.

What’s the origin of the saying “pork barrel politics”?
The phrase is derived from the pre-Civil War practice of distributing salt pork to the slaves from huge barrels. By the 1870s, congressmen were referred to as regularly dipping into the “pork barrel” to obtain funds for popular projects in their home districts.


What’s the origin of the saying to “go whole hog”?
The expression came from the 18th century, when the English shilling was at one time called a “hog.” Thus, a spendthrift, one willing to spend an entire shilling on the entertainment of a friend in a pub, was willing to “go whole hog.”

What’s the heaviest hog ever?
A Poland China hog named “Big Bill” weighed 2,552 pounds and measured 9 feet long. The owner of this hefty hog was Burford Butler of Jackson, Tennessee, in 1933. In contrast, the average market weight of today’s lean hogs is around 265 pounds.

did-you-know-sausageFact or Hogwash? The longest single sausage was over a mile long.

A single sausage measuring 5,917 feet in length was cooked in Barcelona, Spain, on September 22, 1986.


The Lowdown on Lean Cuts

The Lowdown on Lean Cuts


DID you know?

The leanest cuts of pork have the word loin in the name, such as pork tenderloin or loin chop. Fresh or cured ham also can be a lean choice.

lowdown-on-lean-cuts-slices-trim-kabobsTrim to Slim – Reduce calories and fat by trimming all visible fat from lean cuts before cooking. This can cut fat content per serving in half. Trimming prevents fat from being absorbed into the meat during cooking.
Cook It Light – Using low-fat cooking methods like grilling, broiling, stir-frying and pan broiling maximizes flavor while keeping added fat to a minimum.
lowdown-on-lean-cuts-slices-trim-spicesSpice for Life – Pork comes in a variety of cuts and its versatility complements numerous flavors. Seasoning pork with herbs and spices (other than salt) is an easy way to boost flavor and cut back on fat and salt at the same time. Rub the pork with a combo of herbs and spices, such as rosemary, basil, cayenne or paprika, before grilling, broiling or roasting.
lowdown-on-lean-cuts-slices-trim-portionsDevelop an Eye for Size – Practicing portion control is just as important as buying and cooking lean. The USDA Food Guidance System recommends two or three servings from the Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts Group each day, or the equivalent of 5 to 6 ½ ounces of cooked lean meat for adults.

lowdown-on-lean-cuts-slices-trim-shopping-tipQuick Shopping Tip – Estimate about 4 ounces of boneless, trimmed raw pork to get 3 ounces of cooked pork. A 3-ounce serving of trimmed, cooked pork is about the size of a deck of cards. A ¾-inch pork chop will be about 3 ounces when cooked.



Ham Still No. 1 In-home Lunch Sandwich

Top 10 Sandwiches Served In-home at Lunch


  1. Ham
  2. Turkey
  3. Cheese
  4. Peanut Butter and Jelly
  5. Bologna
  6. Tuna
  7. Hot Dog
  8. Hamburger
  9. Egg
  10. Chicken


  1. Ham
  2. Peanut Butter and Jelly
  3. Turkey
  4. Cheese
  5. Hot Dog
  6. Burger
  7. Tuna
  8. Bologna
  9. Chicken
  10. Egg


How to Carve a Ham:

lowdown-on-lean-cuts-carve-1 lowdown-on-lean-cuts-carve-2 lowdown-on-lean-cuts-carve-3
1. Place the ham on a cutting board with the shank – or lower leg – to the carver’s right. Steady the ham with a fork and cut a few slices from the thin side of the leg as shown. 2. Place the ham on the side where you removed slices. Make perpendicular slices to the leg bone. 3. To loosen the slices, cut along the leg bone, removing each slice with the fork.

How Many Meals Come from One Pig?

Each market hog represents…

 pork-meals2 pork-meals3
 pork-meals4  pork-meals5

371 servings of pork

Source: Locke Karriker, DVM, associate
professor of veterinary diagnostic and
production animal medicine at Iowa State
University. Based on a 265-pound market
weight, 70 percent yield and 8-ounce servings.

 pork-meals6  pork-meals7
 pork-meals8  pork-meals9  pork-meals10  pork-meals11
 pork-meals12  pork-meals13  pork-meals14  pork-meals15


Cues for the Conscientious Cook

Cues for the Conscientious Cook

  • Cues for the Conscientious Cook-thermUse an instant-read thermometer to determine when meat is cooked to a safe temperature. Correctly cooked pork is juicy and tender,
    with a slight blush of pink in the center and will be ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 160° F. For large cuts of pork, cook to 150° F and allow the roast to sit on the counter about 10 minutes before cutting. The temperature will rise to 160° F.
  • Keep hot foods hot (140° F or above) and cold foods cold (40° F or below).
  • Never leave cooked meat out at room temperature for more than two hours (one hour in hot weather 90° F or above).
  • Serve cooked food on a clean plate and use clean utensils. Use separate serving plates and utensils for raw and cooked meats.

A Plan for Preparation

  • Cues for the Conscientious Cook-washWash hands, all utensils, containers, cutting boards and work surfaces with warm soapy water for 20 seconds (count to 30) before
    and after handling meat or other food.
  • Thaw meat in the refrigerator or microwave, not at room temperature.
  • Do not wash raw meat before cooking. • Cook meat immediately after thawing, especially if thawed by microwaving.
  • Cut meat, poultry and fish on a separate cutting board from the one you use for fresh foods like vegetables, or thoroughly clean the cutting board between uses.

Pork Fits into a Healthy Diet

Leaner than ever – USDA research reveals that six of the most common cuts of pork are 16 percent leaner and contain 27 percent less saturated fat than they did 19 years ago. As a lean protein option, pork can be part of heart-healthy diet.

Protein power – Women who cut calories but included more protein, including six ounces of lean pork per day, kept more muscle mass while losing weight than women who consumed the same amount of calories but less protein. Consuming a higherprotein diet also helped retain a sense of satiety or fullness after meals.

Nutrient rich – One serving of pork tenderloin contains many vitamins and minerals. It’s an excellent source of many B-vitamins and a good source of other nutrients including phosphorus, zinc and potassium. It’s also naturally low in sodium – only 2 percent of the Daily Value per serving.

Cues for the Conscientious Cook

  • Cues for the Conscientious Cook-thermometerUse an instant-read thermometer to determine when meat is cooked to a safe temperature. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that pork be cooked to an internal temperature of 145° F, followed by a three-minute rest time (medium-rare), up to 160° F (medium). This range of cooking will result in a flavorful, tender and juicy eating experience.
  • Keep hot foods hot (140° F or above) and cold foods cold (40° F or below).
  • Never leave cooked meat out at room temperature for more than two hours (one hour in hot weather 90° F or above).
  • Serve cooked food on a clean plate and use clean utensils. Use separate serving plates and utensils for raw and cooked meats.

A Plan for Preparation

  • Cues for the Conscientious Cook-washWash hands, all utensils, containers, cutting boards and work surfaces with warm soapy water for 20 seconds (count to 30) before and after handling meat or other food.
  • Thaw meat in the refrigerator or microwave, not at room temperature.
  • Do not wash raw meat before cooking.
  • Cook meat immediately after thawing, especially if thawed by microwaving.
  • Cut meat, poultry and fish on a separate cutting board from the one you use for fresh foods like vegetables, or thoroughly clean the cutting board between uses.

Pork Fits into a Healthy Diet

Leaner than ever – USDA research reveals that six of the most common cuts of pork are 16 percent leaner and contain 27 percent less saturated fat than they did 19 years ago. As a lean protein option, pork can be part of heart-healthy diet.

Protein power – Women who cut calories but included more protein, including six ounces of lean pork per day, kept more muscle mass while losing weight than women who consumed the same amount of calories but less protein. Consuming a higherprotein diet also helped retain a sense of satiety or fullness after meals.

Nutrient rich – One serving of pork tenderloin contains many vitamins and minerals. It’s an excellent source of many B-vitamins and a good source of other nutrients including phosphorus, zinc and potassium. It’s also naturally low in sodium – only 2 percent of the Daily Value per serving.

Pork Cooking Times and Temperatures

Method Cut Thickness/ Weight Internal Temp. Followed By a Three-Minute Rest Average Recommended Cooking Time (minutes per pound OR total minutes)
Roast at 350° F., unless otherwise noted. Roast in a shallow pan, uncovered
Loin Roast, Bone–In or Boneless* 2–5 lbs. 145° 20 minutes per lb.
Crown Roast* 10 lbs. 145° 12 minutes per lb.
Fresh Leg/Uncured Ham* 18-20 lbs. 145° 15 minutes per lb.
 Tenderloin* (roast at 425°F.) ½–1½ lbs. 145° 20-27 minutes total time
 Ribs Tender 1½–2 hours
 Ham, fully cooked 5–6 lbs. 140° 20 minutes per lb.
4-5 inches from heat
over direct medium heat; turn once halfway through grilling
 Loin Chops, Bone–In or Boneless  ¾ inch  145°  8–9 minutes
Thick Chop 1½ inches 145° 12–16 minutes
Loin Kabobs 1 inch cubes Tender 10–15 minutes
Tenderloin ½–1½ lbs. 145° 20 minutes
Ground Pork Patties ½–inch 160° 8–10 minutes
over indirect medium heat (285° F.)
Loin Roast, Bone–In or Boneless* 2–5 lbs. 145° 2 lbs. roast = 20 minutes per lb. 3½–5 lbs roast = 15 minutes per lb.
Shoulder (Butt)* 3–6 lbs. Tender 45 minutes per lb.
Ribs Tender 1½–2 hours
Add a little cooking oil to pan; sauté over medium-high heat and turn once halfway through cooking time
Cutlets ¼ inch Tender 3–4 minutes
Loin Chops, Bone–In or Boneless ¾ inch 145° 8 minutes total
Tenderloin Medallions ¼–½ inch Tender 4–8 minutes total
Ground Pork Patties ½ inch 160° 8–10 minutes total
Stewing Cook,
covered, with liquid at a slow simmer
Loin or Shoulder Cubes 1 inch Tender 45 minutes–1 hour

Pork today is very lean and shouldn’t be overcooked. To check doneness, use a digital cooking thermometer. The National Pork Board follows the guidance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which recommends cooking roasts, tenderloins and chops to an internal temperature of 145° F, followed by a three-minute rest time, resulting in a flavorful, tender and juicy eating experience. Ground pork, like all ground meat, should be cooked to 160° F. Pre-cooked ham can be reheated to 140° F or enjoyed cold.

*Note: For easier slicing and to let the pork juices redistribute throughout the meat, remove larger cuts, such as roasts, from the oven or grill and let them stand for a total of 10 minutes before serving.


Everything but the Oink

Everything But the Oink

everything-but-the-oink-pigThe hog is serving essential human needs everyday. From the safe and high-quality product on your plate to a medical lifesaving device and everything in between no other animal provides society with a wider range of products than the hog. Co-products from hogs play a vital though less visible role in maintaining and improving the quality of human life. Thanks to innovative research and new technologies, new and different co-products from hogs are constantly being developed. Insulin from hogs is used in the treatment of diabetes. Hog heart valves are used to replace damaged or diseased human heart values. Skin from hogs is used to treat severe burn victims. The amazing utility of the hog has motivated the saying, “We use everything but the oink.” A viable animal agriculture not only provides an abundant supply of vital nutrients found in meat, but is also a ready source of essential and useful co-products that people depend on so extensively.

Did you know?everything-but-the-oink-pigs

Hog heart valves, specially preserved and treated, are surgically implanted in humans to replace heart valves weakened by disease or injury. Since the first operation in 1971, thousands of hog heart valves have been successfully implanted in human recipients of all ages.

Pharmaceutical Co-Products

everything-but-the-oink-mortarPharmaceuticals rank second only to meat itself in the important contributions hogs make to society. Rapidly advancing science and technology are continually adding to the list of life-supporting and lifesaving products derived from the incredible hog.

Hogs are powerful medicine: All told, hogs are a source of nearly 20 drugs and pharmaceuticals.

Adrenal Glands

  • Corticosteroids
  • Cortisone
  • Epinephrine
  • Norepinephrine


  • Blood Albumens
  • Blood Fibrin
  • Fetal Pig Plasma
  • Plasmin


  • Cholesterol
  • Hypothalamus

Gall Bladder

  • Chenodeoxycholic Acid


  • Heart Valves
  • Intestines
  • Enterogastrone
  • Heparin
  • Secretin


  • Cholic Acid Catalase
  • Desiccated Liver


  • Estrogens
  • Progesterone
  • Relaxin

Pancreas Gland

  • Insulin
  • Kallikrein
  • Glucagon
  • Lipase
  • Pancreatin
  • Trypsin
  • Chymotrypsin

Pineal Gland

  • Melatonin

Pituitary Gland

  • ACTH – Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • ADH – Antidiuretic Hormone
  • Oxytocin
  • Prolactin
  • TSH – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone


  • Porcine Burn Dressings
  • Gelatin


  • Splenic Fluid


  • Pepsin
  • Mucin
  • Intrinsic Factor

Thyroid Gland

  • Thyroxin
  • Calcitonin
  • Thyrogloblin

Industrial Co-Products

Hogs also make a very significant contribution to the world of industrial and consumer products. Hog co-products are sources of chemicals used in the manufacture of a wide range of products that cannot be duplicated by syntheses. And, of course, pigskin is used extensively as high quality leather for clothing, shoes, handbags, sporting goods, upholstery and more.


  • Sticking Agent
  • Leather Treating Agents
  • Plywood Adhesive
  • Protein Source in Feeds
  • Fabric Printing & Dyeing


  • Cholesterol

Bones & Skin

  • Glue
  • Pigskin
  • Garments
  • Gloves & Shoes

Dried Bones

  • Buttons
  • Bone China
  • Bone Meal
  • Mineral Source in Feed
  • Fertilizer
  • Porcelain
  • Enamel
  • Glass
  • Water Filters

Gall Stones

  • Ornaments


  • Artist’s Brushes
  • Insulation
  • Upholstery

Meat Scraps

  • Commercial Feeds
  • Pet food

Fatty Acids & Glycerine

  • Insecticides
  • Weed Killers
  • Lubricants
  • Oil Polishes
  • Rubber
  • Cosmetics
  • Antifreeze
  • Nitroglycerine
  • Plastics
  • Plasticizers
  • Printing Rollers
  • Cellophane
  • Floor Waxes
  • Waterproofing Agents
  • Cement
  • Fiber Softeners
  • Crayons
  • Chalk
  • Phonograph Records
  • Matches
  • Putty
  • Paper Sizing
  • Insulation
  • Linoleum

(source pg 36-37)

Pork Fun Facts

Pork Fun Facts

  1. Pork is the world’s most widely consumed meat. It accounts for 42 percent of consumed meat while chicken is 33 percent and beef 22 percent. (USDA FAS)
  2. Each market hog represents 371 servings of pork.
  3. The leanest cuts of pork have the word loin in them, such as pork tenderloin or loin chop.
  4. To keep your pork juicy and safe you need only cook it to 145° Fahrenheit, let it rest for three minutes and then serve it up!
  5. Pork Producers established the We CareSM initiative to help showcase their everyday commitment to animal and public health, to producing safe food, safeguarding natural resources and being an active member of their community.
  6. The work “barbeque” originated with French-speaking pirates who called their Caribbean pork feast “de barbe et queue”. It translates to “from beard to tail,” reflecting the versatility of the hog.
  7. Salt pork was a key staple food for Washington’s troops at Valley Forge in the winter of 1776 to 1777.
  8. The U.S. exported a total of 4.97 billion pounds of pork in 2011, making it the world’s largest exporter of pork.
  9. The phrase “living high on the hog” originated among army enlisted men referring to the top loin cuts that officers received while the enlisted received shoulder and leg cuts.
  10. Pork is 75 percent leaner today than it was in the 1950’s.


Why is Meat Hung?

Here at Dennison Meats we want to provide our customers with the best quality meat that we can. That is why we hang our meat, just like in the picture, the old fashioned way for the best taste, texture and quality. Our custom processing is second to none.

You buy or bring a beef in and this is the first process that your meat will go through. We know you will love the taste at your dinner table.

Hanging (meat)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaMeat hanging in cooler room-01.jpg

Meat hanging is a culinary process, commonly used in beef aging, that improves the flavor of meats by allowing the natural enzymes in the meat to break down the tissue through dry aging. The process also allows the water in the meat to evaporate, thus concentrating the flavor.


All meat was hung and dry aged from the 1950s up to the early 1960s because butchers had discovered that their beef was more tender and flavorful than the meat that was eaten immediately after its preparation.[1] However, in the 1960s, a combination of meat hanging’s expense and the new process of wet-aging caused meat hanging to almost stop entirely. Meat hanging experienced a surge of popularity in the 1980s though, and dry aged beef continues to be sold in high-end restaurants around the world.[2]


The process of meat hanging involves hanging the meat (usually beef) in a controlled environment. The meat hanging room must be temperature controlled from between 33 to 37 degrees Fahrenheit (1-3 degrees Celsius). It is such a small window in temperature because the meat will spoil if the room is too hot and the process of dry aging stops if the water in the meat freezes. Furthermore, due to the water needing to slowly evaporate the room must be kept to a humidity of around 85. Also, to prevent bacteria developing on the meat, the room must be kept well ventilated. The meat must be furthermore checked on in regular intervals to ensure that the meat does not spoil and the process is working correctly.[3]

Meat hanging allows processes to continue in the meat that would normally cease in dead animals. For example, the muscles in the meat continue to use the oxygen that is in the proteins of the blood. This normal biological process creates a chemical by-product known as lactic acid. Since the blood is no longer being circulated through the body, the lactic acid starts to break down the muscle and connective tissues around it.[1]

The process takes, at a minimum, eleven days. At this point, the meat will noticeably taste better. However, the longer the meat is hung, the better the flavor will be. This length of time also results in a greater chance that the meat will spoil. Therefore, most companies will only hang meat for 20–30 days.[3] Furthermore, dry aged meat will shrink, as much of the water has been evaporated. This loss of mass causes the meat to shrink 10-15% in size.[1]

Beef’s appearance changes through the dry aging process. The meat will change color from red to purple and will be much firmer than fresh meat.[1]


Meat hanging has lost popularity due to its expense. Since the process requires a large room with specific environmental needs as well as constant attention, the price per pound of hung meat is substantial. Furthermore the price of hung meat is compounded because of the high chance of the meat spoiling.[2] Therefore, wet-aged beef is more commonly seen in grocery stores, as dry aged beef is 15-25% more expensive per pound.[1]