Sign in to follow this  
jeniB

"99% grass-fed" beef opinions please.

Recommended Posts

I met a farmer at the local farmers market this weekend who raises and sells pastured beef. I asked him what that meant as far as feeding and he said his cows are 99% grass-fed. If necessary, in the winter, they are supplemented with barley and alfalfa, but never eat corn or soy. I felt pretty good about his answer, but I'm curious as to what others think. Should I look for 100% grass-fed, or is 99% with possible barley and alfalfa good too?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

100% grass fed is best, of course, but I like this farmer already. He's straight with you and he's local, and we're talking about a very small difference indeed.

 

I'd buy this local 99% meat over 100% grass fed that was shipped hundreds of miles.

 

Just my two cents.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By any chance, are you in the West Coast? The severe drought hereabouts is shrinking the amount of pasture grass, so farmers have had to supplement pasture forage with trucked-in feed.

 

Your local farmer is actually doing it right by not feeding his cows soy and corn. So yeah, I don't think you need to worry about that last 1%.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm originally from California, so no stranger to drought, but I live in North Carolina now. We have tons of local produce and meat, everything at the farmers market is from a 70 mile radius. We did have an unusually hard, cold, snowy winter this year so it doesn't surprise me that the cattle needed a little more than what was available in the pasture. Thanks for your input, I appreciate it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alfalfa is a legume.  So technically it's not a grain.  He could be supplementing with alfalfa hay or alfalfa pellets (which is the hay liquified and then extruded into pellets.)  And for the barley, it varies on what part of the plant they are eating.  It could be the stems, seeds/grains, or hulls (if I remember correctly.)

 

Sometimes I supplement alfalfa pellets in the winter.  I don't feel that it violates my grassfed only goal.  My herd always loses weight over the winter from the reduced pasture quality as well as burning calories for heat.  I lost two young steers this past winter.  We are in Georgia (where the winters aren't normally bad), but we had weather that went from 60F down to 10F back and forth over a couple weeks coupled with a lot of rain.  I had several calves that ended up with pneumonia and the two thinnest died.  After that, I started supplementing with alfalfa to get some weight on them.  I can't help but think, had they been heavier, they might have been able to fight better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes and it's high in protein (14% if I remember correctly).  The other thing that cows love is kudzu (another legume).  It's as high in protein as alfalfa.  Kudzu was originally brought over here from china or japan as a feed for cattle and erosion control.  Farmers were encouraged and paid to plant it.  It's gone gangbusters since then and can take over if not cut back regularly.  I have some in one of my pastures and the sheep and cattle will stand on their hind legs to pull leaves out of trees.  They love it.  The kudzu will grow over the entire tree but the dangling parts get eaten.   Despite being able to grow over a foot a day and providing a lot of protein, Kudzu didn't succeed as a widespread cattle forage because cows got tangled up in the vines and the vines don't do well with animals walking over it.

 

Back to the original issue.....If possible, go visit the farmer for a farm tour.  Take a look at the set up.  You will be able to tell if the cows eat mostly grass with a little bit of supplementation, or if they are standing in a paddock waiting to be fed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a side note, I like when customers come for a tour. It gives me a chance to explain why my meat is healthier and I think it helps them understand why my meat costs more than factory meat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

100% grass fed is best, of course, but I like this farmer already. He's straight with you and he's local, and we're talking about a very small difference indeed.

 

I'd buy this local 99% meat over 100% grass fed that was shipped hundreds of miles.

 

Just my two cents.

I'm with you on this one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this