Why Grow Grass Finished Beef?

Can grass finished beef be tough, dry, tasteless etc? Yes. Does it have to be? No. This picture shows that with the right genetics anything is possible.

Beef

As with most of our farming decisions we spent time talking with our elders. When I thought about how my grandfather finished a steer though, we realized that people hadn’t always fed like we do today. He used to put the steer in a box stall, and feed him a 4 litre pail of grain ration a day for six weeks prior to butcher. Our 4-H children were being advised to feed up to twenty pounds of grain a day on a finishing ration. So we decided to head back to the past.

It quickly became apparent that not all of our genetic lines were going to be able to grow and finish without grain. The bull we had at the time needed grain to maintain his weight unless he was fed second cut alfalfa and his heifers were the same. So the first thing we had to do was cull all of those cows/heifers. With BSE underway shipping them wasn’t economically feasible so we butchered the bull. It was an easy decision, as he had turned mean and my husband was the only one currently able to water him, he would charge anyone else. We then purchased a new Black Angus bull (pedigree below) that had been raised without grain (potatoes and forage had been his diet) and stopped retaining any heifers born from daughters of the problem bull. Then we started slowly butchering off the hard keepers.

Lost Lake Iceberg 3438

Car Iceberg 056 IMP056K Reg# 1038043

Car Lady Tracker 620

Ferdinand

Benlock Rito 53F

051 Angus Cow (born 2000)

Angus Cow Molly (Born 1986)

Butchering all those animals taught us that you could stop feeding grain and keep your steaks too.

Beef Photo

The secret is to butcher them in the fall when they still have their pasture fat. We have been butchering, for our personal use, animals 2-6 years old. We have been very pleased with the results. My husband and I are finding that it tastes a lot like the farm beef we remember eating when we were growing up.

Grass management has proven to be a healthier way of life for the cattle. Not only are we saving on feed bills we are also saving on vet bills. We are finding that the cattle are healthier without the grain supplementation than they were before. I have also started reading a lot of research on why eating this grass-finished beef is healthier for people. Scientists are telling us that the ratios of omega 3 to omega 6 fats from this beef are a healthier balance for us than in grain finished. They also contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which research is showing has promise in areas including the suppression of cancerous tumors and the ability to moderate body weight, body composition, glucose metabolism and the immune system. There is some research showing that for full health benefits grass finished beef animals should be butchered when mature.

We chose the replacement heifers that calved this year from our best cows. The ones that calf every year, without assistance, milk heavy and do not need supplemental grain to remain in acceptable shape. We expect them to lose some weight but not get skinny. We only feed loose cobalt salt and a high quality mineral.

If lower feed costs, less health problems and less chores (don’t have to haul those grain pails) isn’t enough to convince people they need to give our heifers a chance then the fact that consumers are willing to pay more for this kind of beef should also be considered.

Our family is sold on this management system. We want to continue raising beef cattle and with low prices and high feed costs this is the only way we can see our herd making it into the future. We would be very pleased to have our breeding stock find homes on other farms where they can help others make a living and stay on the farm.

Comment

  1. great story and recipes
    how much are you asking for your heifers?
    always looking for good stock on grass for people to make the change to a healthier life style for us ,the animals,the people who care for them, and the planet…………mark

    mark nascimento · Oct 13, 08:10 pm · #

  2. Very good, I really enjoyed it. Is there somewhere I can read more about it?

    Storm1534 · Apr 7, 11:29 pm · #

  3. I absolutely love your lamb. It is not very “gamey” tasting and very tender. Best lamb in town. Thank you Chikosky Farms.

    — Rose Stevens · May 2, 09:03 am · #

  4. I absolutely love your lamb. It is not very “gamey” tasting and very tender. Best lamb in town. Thank you Chikosky Farms.

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    — andyson · May 11, 10:27 pm · #

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