Department of Education

Animal Ethics

Animal Ethics


Varietal range difference

Although many different and distinct breeds exist, cattle are usually divided into two groups:

  • dairy cattle, used for milk production, e.g. Holstein, Jersey and Illawarra Shorthorn; and
  • beef cattle, used for meat production, e.g. Hereford, Angus, Murray Grey and Brahman.

Physical characteristics

Size varies greatly between breeds - mature height up to 1500mm at the shoulder, or taller for some large breeds
Weight varies greatly with breed and stage of growth - from 400kg to 800kg
Age at adult size varies between breeds - between 2 and 4 years
Weight at birth small breeds 15kg - 20kg, large breeds 35kg - 40+kg
Gestation period average 282 days, range 275-290 days
Number of offspring normally one
Weaning age 6-8 months
Range of breeding ages mating begins from 15-24 months, reproductive life 8-10 years
Body temperature 38.6°C, range 37°C - 39°C
Heart rate 40-80 beats/minute
Respiration rate 20-40 breaths/minute
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