This is not a cow

Of course not! It’s a steer.

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A steer is a male that has been castrated. This means it can’t breed with the females, which aids in keeping herd quality up and in the timing of the birthing season. It also means the herd is easier to handle without having a bunch of bulls jostling for status. Steers are painful enough as it is.

We raise a lot of steers here. They take longer and are less efficient which doesn’t work well with modern industrial farming but is fine for us old-school types. They taste good and that’s of prime importance to us.

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In SW France male calves usually get shipped off to feedlots in Italy and Spain, so steers are rare. At the supermarket and butcher you find beef from cows – mother cows retired from the breeding or milking herd. These are older than the beef we’d eat in the USA or UK.

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7 responses to “This is not a cow

  1. Hey Melissa! Thanks, it is what we aim for. BTW Jean drives out to Bordeaux to do beef deliveries every now and then if that’s closer for you.

  2. So what is the gender neutral term? I always thought cow kind of served both purposes from a language perspective. I guess cattle covers the plural, is there no gender neutral singular?

  3. “Bovine” is the closest I can think of but “cow” works too. In French ag they use “bovin” because “vache” has a specific meaning, but with most folk it is still just a “vache”.

    You have to be careful with context. You have calves (male and female), heifers, cows, steers and bulls. Then there are special names that some folks use for things like first calf heifers. France even has some Salers-specific names such as a “Tersonne”, which is a female that is three years old.

    Really I was thinking of “ceci n’est pas une pipe” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Treachery_of_Images

  4. If people are used to eating mature cows what is the response when they eat prime steers? Do you slaughter around 24 months?

  5. It may be just the angle on the first photo, but that guy has a nice muscular rear end! What age do you usually butcher? Dexter people do it at different ages, but most say they have more flavor if you wait till 26-28 months. Some states won’t let you use anything that touches the spine in an animal over 30 months, so a lot of people butcher well before that to be sure no question arise.

    This post reminds me of a story my brother-in-law told many years ago. Someone wanted to help Sul Ross University in Alpine, TX develop a herd of cattle for their ag program . . . so they donated six steers. We laughed at what a “bum steer” they’d been given!

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