Dan Byers, an elite-cattle breeder, checks the heartbeat on a newborn calf, born from an embryo implanted in a surrogate heifer. Because the calf was delivered via C-section, he sprinkles sweet molasses powder on her to prompt the surrogate mother cow to lick her clean. Abby Wendle/Harvest Public Media hide caption

itoggle caption Abby Wendle/Harvest Public Media

Donnell Brown and another cowboy move a grouping of bulls from one pen to another on rib-eye ultrasound day in March at the R.A Brown Ranch. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption David Gilkey/NPR

Cattle in holding pens at the Simplot feedlot located next to a slaughterhouse in Burbank, Washington on Dec. 26, 2013. Merck & Co Inc is testing lower dosages of its controversial cattle growth drug Zilmax drug in an effort to resume its sales to the $44 billion U.S. beef industry. Ross Courtney/Reuters/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Ross Courtney/Reuters/Landov

Black Angus cattle in pens outside the sale barn at 44 Farms, a 3,000-acre ranch in Cameron, Texas. The cattle were on display for bidders ahead of 44 Farms' fall auction in October. Andrew Schneider/Houston Public Media hide caption

itoggle caption Andrew Schneider/Houston Public Media

Miller with one of his cows. Dan Charles/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Dan Charles/NPR

A line of fire turns brown grass into black earth. Dan Charles/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Dan Charles/NPR

A tall, rubbery weed with golden flowers Dalmatian toadflax is encroaching on grasslands in 32 U.S. states. pverdonk/Flickr hide caption

itoggle caption pverdonk/Flickr

Beef cattle stand in a barn on the Larson Farms feedlot in Maple Park, Ill. Daniel Acker/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Daniel Acker/Landov

A pen at a feedlot in central Kansas that houses 30,000 cattle. Feedlots are where cattle are "finished" before slaughter, often with the use of growth-promoting drugs like zilpaterol. Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media hide caption

itoggle caption Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Whenever a steer or cow leaves a farm in Michigan or goes to a slaughterhouse, it passes by a tag reader, and its ID number goes to a central computer that keeps track of every animal's location. Dan Charles/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Dan Charles/NPR

A security guard opens the gate at the Central Valley Meat Co., the California slaughterhouse recently shut down by federal regulators after they received a graphic video of cows being mistreated. Gosia Wozniacka/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Gosia Wozniacka/AP

Cattle and zebra share a meal in a pasture in Kenya. Ryan Lee Sensenig/Science hide caption

itoggle caption Ryan Lee Sensenig/Science