Male Meat?

While sitting at a sidewalk cafe last week, a older woman at another table struck up a conversation.  She seemed lonely and wanting to talk to someone, anyone.  Having a difficult time hearing  because of the sound from the fountain,  I got up and walked over to her table.

Beef cuts

Male or Female (Steer or Heifer)?

“You look familiar, where do you work”, she asked.  I explained that I taught Animal Science classes at the local Community College for 20+ years.  As often happens, that opened up a whole new line of conversation.  She wanted to know what in the world would be taught in such classes and I began to explain about Livestock Production courses.  Production is the key word here, we’re really talking about food production.

Not far into the conversation she asked a question specifically about cattle that I had never heard before.  “So, tell me, we only eat male meat, right?”  Male meat?  That was a new one.  No, I explained, we don’t just eat meat from males (steers or bulls). It is true that a larger percentage of retail cuts are produced from males because more females are kept to be breeding animals (cows).  However, some heifers (young females) don’t meet the standards we need and they will be raised and processed for meat.  She found this to be incredulous, but not for the reasons one would think.  She asked, “so a female has a filet on it, too?”

Our conversation went on and we talked about body confirmation and that steers and heifers have the same muscle structures.  Finally out of time, we said our goodbyes, but walking away, I thought about that opportunity.  We never know where or when we will have the chance to share some knowledge that can open up a person’s understanding of how beef, or all food, is produced.  Furthermore, we can never assume that we, in the industry, know how our consumers think.  Male meat?  That took all the assumption out of me. I’m so glad I took time to get up an visit with a stranger that evening, I might have learned more than she did.

If you would like to download a Retail Beef Cuts for Grilling chart, visit:

By the way, the Filet is the smaller side of the Porterhouse Steak.  It’s Spring….soon to be summer….so enjoy some good barbequed beef this season.