Q. What is grass fed beef?
Grass fed beef comes from animals that have been fed a forage (grass) based diet for most or all of their lives. The grass is often supplemented by hay or silage in the winter months or times of slow grass growth. The meat is leaner and contains higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. The animals enjoy a natural diet in open space. Producing grass fed beef is better for the environment, people, and the animals than with conventional grain fed beef.
Q. How is grass fed beef different from grain fed beef?
It is important to understand that grass fed differs from the traditional grain finished beef found in the store. Grass fed animals have been finished on a forage diet – primarily grass and sometimes supplemented with hay or silage in the non-growing season. Grain finished animals are fed large quantities of grain products and are often housed in confinement or feedlots. Some producers advertise that their animals are fed “natural grains”. Grain is still grain and not grass! Consuming large amounts of grain will make them grow and put on fat, but it can be harmful to the cattle. It is not a natural diet for them. The environmental factors are also of concern. When managed properly, an animal grazing in a field will help the environment while a feedlot may create a myriad of environmental problems.
Grass fed animals are not as fat compared to grain finished beef cattle. This is great for the consumer from a health standpoint, but less fat also means less tenderness. Therefore, grass fed beef will need to hang (age) longer. It has a slightly different (but good) flavor and should be prepared in a way to maximize tenderness. Grass fed beef is also juicier. When you empty the fry pan, you will see water, not grease. Once you’ve eaten properly prepared grass fed beef, you may have trouble going back to the traditional fatty kind.
Q. What is the yield of beef versus the hanging weight?
The hanging weight is the weight of the beef carcass after harvest and cooling. Although it is cooled, there will still be a small amount of shrinkage from moisture loss while it is aging. In addition, when the beef is cut, there will be bone and fat discarded. The amount of fat in a grass fed animal is very minimal. However, depending upon what cuts you get and if they are boneless or not will determine the actual yield of meat. A typical yield with a mix of bone in and boneless cuts is 60-65%. Most often I see about 62.5%. There will also be some variation with the body type of the animal and amount of natural muscle. If you are ever concerned about how much beef you got back, please let us know and we can see if it is reasonable or not.
But aren’t I paying more per pound if I get only 60-65% yield? Yes that is true, but keep in mind you are paying the same as a hamburger price at the store (grain fed in a feedlot and who knows where it came from!!) but getting steaks, roasts and everything for that hamburger price and it’s a leaner and healthier product for you.
Q. What is Holistic Management?
Holistic Management is a decision-making framework based on a single comprehensive goal. It may be used in any aspect of life or business. The process is especially helpful when dealing with the complexities of the environment. Creating a “holisticgoal” helps keep social, economic, and environmental balance.
It involves planning, testing decisions, monitoring results, and re-planning as needed. The decision to produce grass fed beef came from this process.