Consider dairy and beef farms like cousins: they are the same, but different.

Cattle farmers value the care of their animals. On both types of farms, the farmers put a lot of emphasis on ensuring their animals have nutritious feed, clean water, and spend lot of time to ensure their animals are healthy by working with professionals like veterinarians or nutritionists. Both types of cattle farmers follow a code of practice in which they have guidelines on how to care for their animals. But it’s important to remember that like any business, there is no “one way” to operate a farm. There are many differences just in dairy operations across Alberta!

The biggest differences come from what the animals job is. For dairy, their job is obviously to produce milk. So, their barns are different because they need access to the milking parlour (usually) twice a day to get milked. The barn is thus fairly sophisticated with a lot of technology, feeding equipment and housing for the cattle. As beef animals don’t get milked, the milking machines and feeding equipment aren’t unnecessary, so they have simpler shelters or corrals. Beef farms usually consist of more pasture as beef cattle have a primarily grass-based diet whereas dairy animals have a higher grain-based diet which requires feed storage and handling equipment on the farm site. Beef animals also tend to live outdoors year around, where the dairy animals often need more shelter where they are milked and also have access to their feed.

We encourage you to connect with Alberta Beef Producers for more information about the beef industry.