Alberta is the largest cattle-producing province in Canada. It led the nation in cattle and calf inventories, with an estimated 5.5 million head as of July 1, 2010, or nearly 40% of the national total (14.0 million head). Alberta has 1.95 million breeding beef cows and heifers which is about 39% of Canada’s total herd.
A bull is an none castrated adult male of the species Bos taurus (cattle). More muscular and aggressive than the female of the species, the cow, the bull has long been an important symbol in many cultures, and plays a significant role in both beef and dairy farming along the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Adult bulls may weigh between 500 and 1,000 kilograms (1,100 and 2,200 lb). Most are capable of aggressive behavior and require careful handling to ensure safety of humans and other animals.
A wild, young, unmarked bull is known as a micky in Australia. Improper or late castration on a bull results in it becoming a coarse steer, also known as a stag in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. In some countries an incompletely castrated male is known also as a rig or ridgling.
It is estimated that 42% of all livestock-related fatalities in Canada are a result of bull attacks, and fewer than one in twenty victims of a bull attack survives.
A common misconception widely repeated in depictions of bull behavior is that the color red angers bulls, inciting them to charge. In fact, like most mammals, cattle are red-green color blind. In bullfighting, it is the movement of the matador’s cape, and not the color, which provokes a reaction in the bull.
It is traditional in many areas to place rings in bulls’ noses to help control them. The ring is usually made of copper, and is inserted through a small hole cut in the septum of the nose. It is used by attaching a lead rope either directly to it or running through it from a head collar.
Bulls have held a place of significance in human culture since before the beginning of recorded history. They appear in cave paintings estimated to be up to 17,000 years old.
What makes Alberta beef special? A major reason is the way ranchers finish their beef with grain. Alberta beef is famous for its flavour, texture and quality, and grain is certainly part of the equation.