Most cows start out on pasture, drinking milk and eating grass. However, conventionally raised cows are later moved to feedlots and fed grain-based feeds, while our grass-fed cows continue to live on grassland. Our grass is never chemically fertilized. If supplement is needed, a compost tea is brewed and fed to the soil. Once grass has gone dormant in the fall until spring, our cows are fed hay from a reputable hay grower where we know what products are used on the hay. If supplemental protein is needed, we feed alfalfa pellets mixed with apple cider vinegar and Redmond’s Conditioner (made up of bentonite clay). They are also given access to a free choice mineral program of single minerals in covered troughs. This gives them the opportunity to select the mineral their body is lacking rather than flooding their bodies with a mixture of minerals, some of which they may not need. Our calves are allowed to nurse on their mothers until they are at least 10 months old or the mother chooses to wean them. This extra nursing time allow the calf’s ruminant system to fully develop causing them to be a more efficient user of the grass they eat.
Differences in Fatty Acid Composition
“You are what you eat” applies to cows too… What a cow eats can have a major effect on the nutrient composition of the beef. This is particularly evident when it comes to the fatty acid composition. Grass-fed usually contains less total fat than grain-fed beef, which means that gram for gram, grass-fed beef contains fewer calories.
But the composition of the fatty acids is vastly different, which is where grass-fed really shines:
Grass-fed beef may contain slightly less total fat than grain-fed beef, but a lot more Omega-3 fatty acids and CLA, which are both very beneficial for health.
Red Meat is Highly Nutritious, Grass-Fed Even More so
Humans have been eating meat throughout evolution and our bodies are well equipped to digest and absorb the nutrients from meat. Traditional hunter-gatherer populations like the Masai and Inuit got most of their calories from meat and remained in excellent health. This is possible because red meat, even conventional grain-fed meat, is incredibly nutritious.
Regular grain-fed beef is loaded with Vitamin B12, B3 and B6. It is also very rich in highly bioavailable Iron, Selenium and Zinc. Meat contains some amount of almost every nutrient that humans need to survive. Meat also contains high quality protein and various lesser known nutrients like Creatine and Carnosine, which are very important for our muscles and brains.
However, grass-fed beef is even more nutritious than that:
Animal Treatment Matters Too
Extensive studies have been directed to how animal treatment effects the taste of food. Animals raised in highly stressful environments. The energy required for muscle activity in a live animal is obtained from sugars (glycogen) in the muscle. In the healthy and well-rested animal, the glycogen content of the muscle is high. After the animal has been slaughtered, the glycogen in the muscle is converted into lactic acid, and the muscle and carcass becomes firm (rigor mortis). This lactic acid is necessary to produce meat, which is tasteful and tender, of good keeping quality and good color. If the animal is stressed before and during slaughter, the glycogen is used up, and the lactic acid level that develops in the meat after slaughter is reduced. This will have serious adverse effects on meat quality.
We keep our environment as peaceful as possible. Our animals are docile and love to see humans. They see us as the source of a new grassy spot to eat or some yummy alfalfa. We are very thankful for the meat that our animals make for us and our customers.
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