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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Study all aspects of the management and care of beef cattle with this specialised, indepth course

  • Improve your knowledge of the management of beef cattle.
  • Study with highly experienced professionals – our tutors!
  • Earn while you learn - study in your own time at your own pace.
  • Develop your abilities to analyse and make decisions about the management requirements of beef cattle.

The course is a comprehensive introduction covering such things as Cattle Breeds; Beef Cattle Production Systems; Cattle Breeding; Diseases in Beef Cattle; Nutrition for Beef Cattle; Commercial Herd Management; Feed Lot Management; Stud Herd Management; Management, Economics and Marketing.

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Become a Beef Cattle Specialist

Study Beef Cattle with ACS Distance Education and:

  • Gain a solid foundation of knowledge in beef production.
  • Learn practices and theories applicable to the real world.

This course is ideal for existing beef cattle producers, those who are looking to enter the industry and also for people are looking to start their own beef cattle production business.

We frequently receive unsolicited comments from students who have completed courses.  These serve to highlight the relevance of our approach:

"I find that I can apply my knowledge directly on the property. All assignments are relative to real life"
Chontelle - Beef Cattle course.

Course Duration: 100 hours.

Start Date: Start at any time - study at a pace that suits you, and with full tutor support for the duration of your studies.

Lessons: The course comprises 9 lessons as detailed, below.

Lesson 1. Introduction to Beef Cattle and Beef Cattle Breeds
The role of beef cattle in agriculture; Scientific classification; Examples of breeds worldwide; British Beef breeds - Angus, Hereford, South Devon, Sussex, Red Poll; U.S. Developed Beef breeds - Santa Gertrudis, American Brahman, Amerifax, Beefmaster; European Beef breeds - Salers, Charolais, Simmental, Gelbvieh; Australian Beef breeds - Braford, Beefmaster, Droughtmaster, Murray Grey, Australian Lowline; South African Beef Breeds - Salorn, Tswana, Tuli, Afrikander; Breed selection c0nsiderations - horned vs poll, colour, gestation length, birth weight, mothering ability, post weaning growth, meat quality etc.

Lesson 2. Beef Cattle Production Systems
Various systems of production - extensive, intensive, semi-intensive; Choosing a suitable system - considerations include size, climate, soils, transport, markets etc; Cattle handling facilities; Materials used in cattle handling; Cattle identification - branding, ear marking, tattooing, ear tags; De-horning - chemical and mechanical; Castration, dips and dipping, and injecting cattle.

Lesson 3. Beef Cattle Breeding
Heritability, performance testing, progeny testing, selection; Pure versus cross breeding - advantages and disadvantages; Calving percentage; Management factors to improve calving percentage; Weaning Calves; Factors affecting calf weaning; The anatomy of the male reproductive system; The physiology of the male reproductive system; Fertility problems in the male; The anatomy and physiology of the female reproductive system; Fertility problems; Pregnancy and parturition; The structure of the mammary glands; Secretion of milk; Growth and development; Post-natal growth; Compensatory growth.

Lesson 4. Diseases in Beef Cattle (Viral and Bacterial)
Determining health status of the animal; Signs of a healthy animal; Causes of ill-health; Injury, poor nutrition, poisoning, parasites, hereditary conditions etc; Preventing ill-health; Correct feed and nutrition, insect control, parasite control, vaccinations, control stress etc.

Lesson 5. Parasitic and Other Diseases in Beef Cattle
Some parasitic diseases; Other ailments of cattle - actinobacillosis, anaplasmosis, arthritis, beef measles; Poisoning, Pink eye, Milk fever, bloat etc.

Lesson 6. Nutrition in Beef Cattle
Feed type - Roughages and concentrates; Carbohydrates, protein, fats; Grass or grain feeding; Rations for beef cattle - maintenance or production rations; Maintenance rations; Procedure for calculating a ration; Supplementary feeding of protein; Lot; Feeding; Minerals; Common macromineral deficiencies; Common trace mineral deficiencies; Diagnosis of trace mineral deficiencies; Vitamins; Water for farm animals; Protein.

Lesson 7. Commercial Herd Management
The breeding herd; Production systems; Cow-calf herd; Beef production systems using dairy stock.

Lesson 8. Feed Lot Management
Lot feeding - types of feedlot; Managing cattle in a feedlot; Feedlot Records; Article on pen feeding in South Africa.

Lesson 9. Stud Herd Management
Time of calving; Feeding; Fertility; Indicators of fertility in bulls; Indicators of fertility in cows; Management, Economics and Marketing; Profitability; Factors affecting gross output; Factors affecting variable costs.


  • Visit a range of enterprises which may include farms, agricultural shows, and suppliers of farm products in order to research, photograph, describe and specify facilities in the places visited as a basis, or part basis, of assignment questions.
  • Identify beef cuts on a labelled diagram of a steer's body.
  • Judge a beef animal according to commonly recognised commercial standards.
  • Identify breeds suitable for beef production in specified climates.
  • Observe and report on common cattle husbandry tasks, including dehorning, castration, dipping, vaccination, and drenching.
  • Explain methods that are used to control beef cattle movements.
  • Prepare a production schedule or timetable of husbandry practices for a typical beef cattle property in your locality for a period of 12 months.
  • Determine the nature and scope of beef cattle breeding a particular state or country.
  • Explain the differences between and advantages of pure breeding and cross breeding.
  • Describe and explain management and other factors that can affect calving percentage and calf weaning.
  • Visit a supplier of health care treatments for cattle to determine what products (e.g. dips, medicines etc.) are available.
  • Describe a significant viral disease, including its identification, symptoms and control.
  • Interview someone working in the industry to determine the significance and nature of disease problems in beef cattle.
  • List parasites and related organisms that are significant to beef cattle in your region.
  • Report on the preferred food requirements for beef cattle on a beef property.
  • Explain common health problems affecting animals, including the circumstances under which animals contract health problems, and methods used to prevent the development of ill health.
  • Analyse physical indicator symptoms of ill health in animals.
  • Explain diagnosis of main types of animal pathogenic microorganisms.
  • Explain the methods used in the treatment of pests and diseases in farm animals.
  • Explain the role of inflammation, including its symptoms and causes, in animals.
  • Determine the taxonomic class of animal pests and diseases.
  • Explain the biological processes which affect and control the immune system in animals.
  • Explain the biological processes which affect and control tissue repair in animals.
  • Determine procedures for the management of wounds to animals, on a farm.
  • Explain the processes involved in cellular change in animals.
  • Diagnose simple health problems in farm animals.
  • Develop guidelines for assessing general signs of ill health in beef cattle.
  • List minimum equipment required to run a commercial beef cattle property.
  • Equipment will include suitable machinery and tools.
  • Distinguish between bulls, heifers and calves.
  • Describe three diseases affecting feedlot cattle.
  • List criteria for selecting cattle for a feedlot and state what characteristics of the cattle should be considered.
  • Compare the management of beef cattle in feedlot with the management in a paddock.
  • Explain the management of a stud beef herd on a property you visited.
  • Explain the legal requirements and regulations concerning beef cattle.
  • Distinguish the following terms of grades of beef: prime, choice, good, standard, etc.

You can start the Beef Cattle course at any time.

It is studied by distance learning, so you can study in the comfort of your own home. But this doesn't mean you are all alone in your studies.  Our highly qualified and friendly tutors are there to help you every step of the way.  If you have any questions at all, they are always happy to help.

Each lesson includes set tasks, and is completed with an assignment which the student submits to their course tutor.  The tutor will mark the assignment and return this to the student with comments and suggestions for further reading.


  • Quality - our courses are developed and tutored by experience professionals, with real world experience.
  • Relevant - our courses are relevant to today's world, with teaching that you can apply to real life situations.
  • Independent - ACS were established in 1979 and remain an independent distance learning school, meaning we remain fully focused on the development and teaching of our students.
  • Flexible - our courses can be started at any time and studied at your own pace, and therefore fitted around your existing commitments.
  • Choice - other than offering a wide range of courses in a multitude of disciplines, we provide the options of either online studies or eLearning - you choose the option which best suits you, so you can determine where and when you study.

Studying Beef Cattle with ACS will provide you a solid foundation of knowledge in beef production. Our belief is that a good course should not only develop intelligence and knowledge, but also:

  • Improve your ability to communicate with others within the discipline
  • Develop problem solving skills relevant to this discipline
  • Expand awareness and develop creativity
  • Facilitate networking (develop contacts within an industry)
  • Develop attributes that set you apart from others in your industry
  • Motivate you, build confidence, and more

Our school works at helping you in a holistic way, to provide you with development in a way that relates to the discipline you are studying - giving you the capacity to apply yourself to unanticipated problems, and to understand new information as it emerges, to see and seize on new opportunities as they reveal themselves, and to continue to grow your abilities within your discipline as you progress through life after study.

Who Should Study This Course?

This course is suitable for anyone wanting to learn more about beef cattle, such as -

  • farmers
  • farm workers
  • smallholders
  • animal rescue staff
  • veterinarians
  • veterinarian nurses and assistants
  • animal health experts

Our Beef Cattle tutors are knowledge and happy to answer any questions you may have about the course.

Please click here to contact a tutor


request a course handbook here.

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Alison Pearce (animal)B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Masters Degree in Ecotourism. P.G.Cert. Ed. (Science). Alison's first job was in 1982 as a stockwoman, working with pigs in Yorkshire. Within a few years she of that she was working for the University of Western Australia as a Research Technician and instructor with their school of Agricultural Science.In 1989 she moved to Melbourne University as Unit Manager and Instructor in Animal Husbandry. By the mid 1990's she moved back to England to work in Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing at Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture. Throughout her career, Alison has developed and delivered courses in veterinary nursing and animal sciences for vocational colleges and universities in Australia, New Zealand and Australia. She has built a high level of expertise and an outstanding international reputation as an expert in animal sciences.
Dr. Gareth PearceGraduated from the University of Nottingham in 1982 with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Between 82 and 85 worked as Research Assistant and Demonstator in Animal Science at the University of Leeds. Over more than 30 years he has furthered his studies, obtaining eight significant university qualifications including degrees in Veterinary Science, Wildlife Conservation and Animal Behaviour. Gareth has significant teaching experience around the world as a faculty member at eight different universities including Associate Professor at Murdoch University and Director of Studies in Veterinary Science at Cambridge University. He has over 100 prestigious research papers published, and enjoys an outstanding international reputation in the fields of animal and veterinary science.
Cheryl McLardyA scientist, teacher, writer and animal scientist, with more than 20 years experience including: Sports Horse Stud Groom, Stable Manager, Yard Manager, Equine industrial Training Manager, FE Distance Learning Manager. Cheryl has travelled widely, working in England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand; and is now based in Scotland. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons), Higher National Diploma in Horse Management, and a City and Guilds Teaching Certificate.
Marius Erasmus Subsequent to completing a BSc (Agric) degree in animal science, Marius completed an honours degree in wildlife management, and a masters degree in production animal physiology. Following the Masters degree, he has worked for 9 years in the UK, and South Africa in wildlife management, dairy, beef and poultry farming.

Check out our eBooks

Cattle BreedThe Cattle Breeds ebook is a comprehensive guide to the different varieties of cattle. This 71 page ebook includes descriptions of the ideal uses for each breed and the origin.
Horse CareThis book is an accumulation of information from biology, agricultural science and veterinary medicine. It looks to explore and explain the fundamentals of appropriate horse care aims and techniques. In doing so it will consider horsemanship as a combination of art and science.
PoultryPoultry are entertaining as pets and life sustaining as a commercial product! Whether you are seeking a book as a beginner poultry keeper or if you are embarking on a new career in poultry production or management, this book is for you. Easy to read, easy to understand and packed with easy to implement practical advice. Know how to care for the health and wellbeing of poultry and make production a commercially viable enterprise.
Animal HealthUnderstand animal health issues, diseases and how identify and manage illnesses and injuries. Animals can become sick for many different reasons -diseases caused by infections, injuries, poisoning, genetic disorders, poor nutrition and other things.