What Is Grass-Fed Beef?

Why Grassfed?

REAL Beef is Grass Fed Beef and a Major Source of Omega 3 fats

When we switch from grainfed to grassfed meat, then, we are simply returning to the diet of our long-ago ancestors, the diet that is most in harmony with our physiology. Every cell and every system of our bodies will function better when we eat products from animals raised on grass.

Grass-fed beef is naturally leaner than grain-fed beef.

Omega 3s in beef that feed on grass is 7% of the total fat content, compared to 1% in grain-only fed beef.

Grass-fed beef has the recommended ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats (3:1.)

Grass-fed beef is loaded with other natural minerals and vitamins, plus it's a great source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) a fat that reduces the risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and a number of immune disorders.

Beef, in its natural grass-fed state, is a health food of the highest order.

Health Benefits

If you're looking to impress family and friends with the best grilled flank steak or the juiciest burger, the next time you go shopping for meat opt for sustainably raised, grass-fed beef. Despite the mystique surrounding the cooking of grass-fed beef, it only takes a little extra care to dish up amazingly tender and succulent steaks.

But why go through the trouble of seeking out grass-fed while supermarket aisles all over the country are rife with all sorts of cuts of grain-fed beef?

Personal health is one reason. Grass-fed meat is low in both overall fat and artery-clogging saturated fat, and it provides a considerably higher amount of healthy Omega-3 fats than corn-fed meat. The meat from grain-fed feedlot animals typically contains only 15 to 50 percent of the Omega-3's of grass-fed livestock. And even though grain-fed cows develop highly marbled flesh that most consumers are accustomed to, this is unhealthy saturated fat that can't be trimmed off.

And there's more. Meat from pastured cattle has up to four times the amount of vitamin E than meat from feedlots, and is much higher in Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), a nutrient associated with lowering cancer risks.

Another reason to prefer a pastured, grass-fed cow is that it's had a dramatically better life than its feedlot cousin. Grass-fed animals remain on pasture from birth to market, roaming around in fresh air and sunshine. Grain-fed cows, on the other hand, are raised on pasture only for the first months of their lives. The vast majority of them are then transported to distant feedlots where they are raised in confinement.

The diet of grass-fed cows is what it was always meant to be: fresh pasture, hay, or grass silage. Cows are ruminants. They are endowed with the uncanny ability to convert grass into food that they can digest. (This is done by virtue of a rumen , a 45-gallon “fermentation tank” in which resident bacteria convert cellulose into protein and fats.) In feedlots, cows are switched to a diet based on grains – at times with a dash of poultry litter and a sprinkle of restaurant waste, as we've learned from the news of the first U.S. case of mad cow. To speed their growth and reduce the health problems that come from being fed this unnatural diet and from their stressful living, these animals are treated with hormones, feed additives, and daily doses of antibiotics.

Compare this with the happy life of pastured animals, who don't partake in the daily stress of modern life. They don't need drugs and antibiotics to keep healthy, and their growth is determined by genetics, not by genetically modified, growth-promoting hormones.

Traditionally, all beef was grass-fed. But what you're likely to find in grocery stores around the country today is almost all grain-fed, feedlot beef. The reason? Economics. Cows grow faster in feedlots and they are more profitable.  As I was growing up on a farm in rural Missouri, it was very common for individuals to buy beef directly from the farm, which seems to be out of the norm for today's society, but a much healthier option. 

 

Forages

Grass-fed Beef are actually a byproduct of what is really the most important asset in cattle farming, forages.  We practice no till drilling and overseeding to ensure we have the best "salad bar" the cattle can choose.  We have both warm season and cool season forages.  The cool season forages consist of an abundance of white clover, rye grass, and fescue.  The warm season forages include bermuda, crabgrass, lespedeza, bahaia, and dallas grass.  Our climate actually provides more months of growing cool season forages than warm season, but both varieties have very good qualities and compliment each other well.  The picture below was taken on our farm in early spring showing our diversity from white clover legumes to fescue grasses.

Holistic/Sustainable Farming

Holistic management describes a systems thinking approach to managing resources that builds biodiversity, improves production, generates financial strength, enhances sustainability, and improves the quality of life for those who use it. Developed by Allan Savory, holistic management offers a new decision-making framework that managers in a variety of enterprises, cultures, and countries are using to help ensure that the decisions they take are economically, socially, and environmentally sound, simultaneously—both short and long term.

Sustainable agriculture is the practice of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has been defined as "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term:

  • Satisfy human food and fiber needs
  • Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends
  • Make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls
  • Sustain the economic viability of farm operations
  • Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole."[1]

Sustainable agriculture in the United States was addressed by the 1990 farm bill.[2] More recently, as consumer and retail demand for sustainable products has risen.]

Rotational Grazing - This involves reducing the size of pastures from large to small and limiting the access to these smaller paddocks.  This system allows the paddocks to be grazed and then rested for a number of days, allowing the forage to rest and regrow to sufficient heights before being grazed again.  This not only provides more nutrients for the cattle, but reduces erosion and creates more organics to the soil through better manure distribution.  Since beginning rotational grazing, we have noticed an incredible amount of activity under the soil.  The worms and dung beetles compete for the manure as they process the natural fertilizer directly into the ground.  This in turn has allowed our pastures to gain organic nutrients, grow more and better grasses, and allow us to produce more and healthier cattle per acre.

Humanely Raised - This is not just a coined phrase, but a way of farming.  We take incredible pride in our animals and provide the best humane care possible.  The cattle live in a very low stress and quiet environment where their needs are successfully met. 

Water Systems - The cattle are provided plenty of water from a well and four very large tire tank watering systems we built here on the farm.  The waterers provide about 600-700 gallons of fresh well water based on the diameter of the tire.  The cattle also have limited access to a creek and pond.

Forage Management - We initially viewed ourselves as cattle farmers, but realized we are really grass farmers.  Without the grass, we have no grassfed cattle.  So we continually sow and overseed various grasses and legumes.  The forages include clover, lespedeza, fescue, bermuda, bahaia, dallis, and ryegrass.

Humanely Raised

We make every effort to make the cattle's lives free from stress.  They are raised in a natural free grazing environment as they are moved from paddock to paddock within the farm.  We check them regularly, as we live on the farm where they are raised.  The cattle are very tame and not flighty or fearful of human contact, but many times approach us as we are checking them.