The differences have something to do with age and gender.
A cow gives milk, a cow and a calf give meat, right? If you buy beef, it could also be cow meat or even meat from an ox or a bull? That's how most explanations go.
This is even partly true, but in the end it is the details that make the difference. So let's take a closer look.
The cattle (domestic cattle)
When we speak of cattle, we generally mean the domesticated form of an aurochs, the domestic cattle. Domestic cattle is therefore the name of the entire species, regardless of whether we are talking about a cow, a calf or an ox. It's like a family. There is mum, dad, grandma and grandpa, but they are all the Müller family. Water buffaloes are not part of it, by the way.
Young animals that are not yet sexually mature up to the 7th month of life are called calves. From the 8th to the 12th month they are called young cattle. Feeders are young animals from dairy cows that have already started to eat grass, etc. They are called weaners. Weaners are analogously the young animals from beef cattle farming.
The more intensive the husbandry (breeding), the earlier the animals are weaned - after all, the big meat companies want to sell the milk and not feed it to the calves.
The animals that Alpahirt processes are quite different: the young animals live together with their mothers and drink their milk as long as nature wills it!
Until a female cow is mated for the first time, she is called a heifer. However, there is a whole series of terms with the same meaning, which only differ in their regional origin, but all mean the same thing: Kalbin, Kalbe, Rind, Quie, Quiene, Starke, Sterke, Queen, Queene, Beijst, Beijste, Manse, Mänsche, Meis or also Galtlig, Guschti, Gusti or Schump(e).
As soon as a female cow has given birth to her first calf, she is called a cow. Sometimes the term young cow is also used for animals that are between the first and second birth of their offspring. Dairy cows are animals used for milk production and suckler cows are animals used for meat production. Nurse cows are those that nurse calves of other cows.
There are also many regional names for a bull, i.e. a sexually mature male domestic cattle: Bull, semen ox, semen cattle, farre, farren, Fasel, Faselochse, Hage, Hägel, Häge, Hägi, Haigel, Muni or Hummel.
Fattening bulls are primarily used for meat production, while breeding bulls are used to inseminate cows. Up to the age of 24 months, they are also called young bulls. When a bull is 3 years old, he is also called a terz.
If a male bovine animal has been castrated, it is called an ox. In special cases also as muchse.
So what exactly do we eat when we buy beef?
Since all of these animals belong to the genus "actual cattle", they can also all be sold as beef - regardless of whether it is a female or male animal, a breeding ox or a heifer ... or have you ever read cow meat on a package?
At Veal it is somewhat different. Of course, veal could also be sold as beef, but then the producers and traders would be stupid, because veal is much more tender, of higher quality and more expensive, and that is why they have created a separate name for it.
Burgers are mostly made from older animals
Since a burger patty or even minced meat is generally sold "only" as ground beef - without specifying exactly what kind of animal it comes from - older animals are often used for this purpose.
Most animals are slaughtered quite young
A calf is usually slaughtered at a maximum of 5 months, a cow at an average age of 11 months. A dairy cow reaches the end of its life at an average age of 5 years.
And at Alpahirt?
You may be wondering exactly which animals are used in Alpahirt products. We are happy to answer this question, because we are very proud of our farmers who supply the meat for us.
This is because these are exclusively Mother cows from the region. And what have we just learned (above)? Mother cows are animals that are kept for the rearing of their offspring. They are kept outside more often and can follow their natural instincts and suckle their calf. So this is not about selling their milk, but the meat of their offspring. The farmers are therefore not dependent on the sale of the milk, which largely benefits the calves.
Only when something good goes in can something good come out
Our natural dried meat comes from older mother cows from Graubünden that live to an average age of 10 years and have spent 8 summers on the alp. Our organically certified partner farmers all completely forego the addition of performance feed and attach great importance to raising the cows as close to nature as possible with a lot of grazing.
Pasture-raised meat, i.e. meat from grass-eaters, has a very good fatty acid composition and an ideal ratio of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. An exciting detail is that cows on pasture eat seven to ten kilograms of bacteria and other microorganisms along with the grasses every day. In other words, proteins without which a cow can no more live than we humans can. Meat from grass-fed animals is therefore extremely healthy.