What is Grass Fed and Grass Finished Beef?
Soon after birth, all cattle consume not only their mother’s milk but also begin eating available grasses and forages. Thus begins for them what should be a lifetime of grass feeding. Cattle are ruminants and have a unique digestive system - a stomach comprised of four separate compartments designed to convert grass or cellulose into energy and protein. As the calf begins to mature, it becomes a more efficient converter of grass into muscle. It is only truly grass fed if the animal consumes grasses, its mother’s milk and nothing else ever.
In a conventional cattle system, quite different from ours, when the calf reaches the yearling stage, it is typically shipped to a feedlot. In this type of system, in order to "finish" the animal, it is presented with a corn-dominated ration before it is sent to harvest. The animal by its very evolution is not equipped to process the starch in the corn ration. Cattle are not able to digest grains as well as grasses and forages, which leads to an increased risk of digestive disorders and illness, which may require antibiotics. However, this type of feeding system brings the cattle to the desired harvest weight in less time than a grass finishing method.
We believe in a different “finishing” system for our yearlings. Instead of being sent to a feedlot, they are rotated through pastures and consume the available grasses and forages at their leisure. By providing the food source for which they are perfectly suited, their ruminant system or “gut” remains alive with cultures and bacteria that, when combined with the ingested grasses, forms a healthy nutritious alternative to the feedlot’s starchy corn ration. This different or alternative type of cattle nutrition system is known as grass finishing.
It is important to make sure that the complete definition of "grass fed" cattle is understood, as it should include finishing the cattle on grass, not just grazing them on grass for the first year of their lives.
Here at Western Grassfed Beef we raise all of our cattle on grass throughout their whole life. We take pride when we say our cattle are100% grass fed and grass finished.