I’m a sucker for educational events about grazing and grass-fed meat production. So, while at the last conference I attended, I was shocked to overhear two men talking in the lobby, and one said, “I’ll never eat grass-fed beef again. It tastes terrible. It’s tough. And it’s dry.”
It took a lot of self-control to not insert myself into that conversation.
A few years ago, I remember talking to a neighbor who said he bought a quarter cow from our other neighbor. He tried a few steaks and described it as “shoe leather.” He fed the rest to his dog.
I have heard similar comments many times from many different types of people. “Yeah, maybe grass-fed beef is better for me and better for the environment, but I just can’t eat it. Grain-fed beef tastes so much better.”
Well, I’m here to tell you that you can have your grass-fed beef and eat it (with enthusiasm) too.
The truth is that it is EASIER to produce tender, moist grain-fed beef, BUT grass-fed beef can actually be more tender, moist, and flavorful when produced correctly.
This has been my personal mission for years now.
The principles for producing high-quality beef are the same whether feeding grass or grain:
The cattle must be gaining more than 1.7 lbs of weight every day. (Yes, you read that correctly - 1.7 lbs per day!!! Milo is growing pretty fast, but not quite that fast.)
The cattle must be handled in a way that minimizes stress.
In short, fat and happy cows make tender delicious meat.
Though the principles are simple, the application of these principles is much more difficult with grass-fed cattle. Grain-feeding makes principle #1 very easy. The cattle can be eating low-quality pasture or hay with a supplement of corn and soybeans, and they will easily gain over 1.7 lbs per day.
To accomplish this growth rate without grains, our primary focus throughout the growing season is on maximizing the quality and quantity of our forages. (I could go on for hours about how we do this, but I’ll save that for another fireside chat.)
To minimize stress, we have learned to observe our animals and their natural tendencies. We have designed systems and processes around their needs, not ours. We watch their body language and change our actions if we see the slightest bit of nervousness. And we use a slaughterhouse that was designed by Temple Grandin, a premier advocate and educator in the world of animal psychology, behavior, and stress avoidance.
All of this, to supply you with the most delicious beef, from animals that you can trust were raised with the utmost respect and care.