Glossary of Terms
Grass Finished - The final segment of a beef cattle’s life is traditionally called the finishing period. This is the time to more quickly enhance their weight gains and promote the production of fat to ensure juicy, flavorful beef. Typically, conventional cattle are fed a diet of processed grains and other starches to achieve this gain. This is called grain finishing or “corn finished” in the industry. At Western Grassfed Beef, we start with grass fed and then use the open pasture grass finishing model to preserve the high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and the CLA that naturally exist in the meat, hence the term “grass finished”. The goal in either a feedlot “grain finishing” environment or an open pasture “grass finishing” environment is to be able to better maximize the cattle’s weight gain and maintain a steady supply of market ready cattle.
Natural - To us, this means the cattle are never administered hormones or antibiotics in any form either sub-therapeutically or therapeutically. If an animal gets sick, and it happens, we treat it with an antibiotic because to do otherwise would be inhumane. It is then removed from the natural grass fed program. We go further in our definition of natural as we have a humane handling protocol with which our ranchers must comply. Additionally, we have environmental stewardship requirements that compel our ranchers to sustainably raise cattle for our program.
Never/Ever Program: It’s simple – it means our cattle were never/ever administered hormones or antibiotics. Period – end of story.
**Many other “natural” programs are not never/ever. You’ll need to look for the claims specifically and pay attention to asterisks**
Pasture-Raised – While others may use a pasture as a modified corn-feeding station, pasture-raised, to us, means our cattle eat only the available grass and nothing else. When we say 100% grass fed, we mean it.
Marbling - This is a measure of the amount of “fat flecks” within the beef muscle tissue. The primary source of such fat is the corn diet to which a conventionally raised animal is subjected. However, a grass fed and grass finished animal can also produce marbling, which our cattle do, just not in the abundance of corn finished cattle. There is also one other distinction. The fat that is in our grass fed and grass finished beef is predominately unsaturated fat with high omega 3 levels and low omega 6’s to omega 3’s, all of which have been shown to contribute to human heart health.
Conventional Beef – Most beef is from cattle raised in a “conventional” manner, meaning that while they are initially raised on grass, they are finished on grain, which is usually a corn-dominated ration. This type of beef is available nearly everywhere and is distinct from ours simply because the animals are sent to feedlots and finished on grains, rather than grasses.
Grading - The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has an inspector who makes a visual determination of a beef carcass and assigns a grade to it. This grading is based on factors such as the amount of marbling, amount of surface fat and heavy body conformation - the more fat, the higher the grade. We do not grade our grass fed beef carcasses because we do not see animals with a large amount of intermuscular fat nor do they weigh in as heavy as conventional cattle.
Free Range – While often referred to in poultry raising, some have tried to assign it as a classification for raising cattle. We say our cattle are pasture raised to give a clearer definition to our cattle-raising methods. We’ll leave the free range definition to poultry.
Feed Lot - These are confinement areas where conventionally raised cattle are given a small space to live in, usually 150 square feet and a limited amount of space to access a feeding trough. The ration offered to these cattle is predominantly corn-based which is high in starch and not suited for a ruminant animal's digestive system.