Raising Grass-Fed Beef

If you keep cattle, you can save a lot of money by raising grass-fed beef.


| May/June 1980



063 grass fed beef - pasture

Properly pastured, raising grass-fed beef cattle can yield you more meat — up to 200 pounds more, with less fat and at less cost than commercial grain-fed beef.

PHOTO: HELEN MOLITOR

Every year, North Americans waste more than 18 million tons of protein by feeding livestock on grain. A steer, you see, must eat 21 pounds of grain protein in order to produce one pound of beef protein . . . so 20 pounds of the valuable nutrient is lost in the process.

It is commonly assumed, of course, that grain-fed beef is the world's best . . . and if you've ever wrestled with a chunk of elderly range cow, you may agree. However, the "fossil" you tasted then wasn't typical of real grass-fed beef, because such meat can be as tender as any touted commercial cut . . . and much tastier, as well.

So if your land produces hay — or if your climate is such that you can keep cattle on pasture for a good part of the year — you can save money by growing your own feed and raising grass-fed beef. Furthermore, even if you have to buy your supply of hay, you'll find such feed to be much less expensive than grain and a better nutritional buy than most folks realize: Average-to-good hay is more than half digestible nutrients, while grains—despite their high prices—are only about 80% digestible.

Production-Line Cattle

When you consider all the advantages of grass-feeding, you'd think there'd be more livestock raised in such a manner . . . but beef is big business, and commercial cattle operations are huge and streamlined. Young steers are weaned early and sent to large feedlots to fatten quickly on grain. Some such "cow factories" hold more than 10,000 animals, yet they don't require much area, as compared to the amount of land needed by even a modest number of grazing cattle. Thus, the feedlot owner's investment and taxes are lower than those of a farmer who pastures his or her beasts.

Then, too, when nobody pays much attention to individual animals (as is the case in feedlots), a grain diet produces a more uniform meat product . . . especially when it's backed by hormone shots to increase the beasts' appetites. Consequently, enormous feedlots supply the gigantic packing plants, and the assembly-line steaks just keep moving right along.

But families who raise their own beef don't need such super-efficiency, and they can use the extra 200 to 300 pounds of meat usually found on an animal that's fleshed out naturally . . . particularly when that extra weight is meat, as opposed to feedlot fat.

Semper
3/31/2016 9:36:57 AM

We just started our farm in Texas. It was a mesquite colonized terrain, which we cleaned mechanically. We spread Texas Tough bermuda grass seed and it looks great!. But we need to know what herbicides and fertilizers to use to raise organic, grass fed Brangus cattle. Any advise will be greatly appreciated!


Semper
3/31/2016 9:32:47 AM

e just started our farm in Texas. It was a mesquite colonized terrain, which we cleaned mechanically. We spread Texas Tough bermuda grass seed and it looks great!. But we need to know what herbicides and fertilizers to use to raise organic, grass fed Brand us cattle. Any advise will be greatly appreciated!


Chuck
1/3/2016 9:46:19 AM

My wife and I are moving to dallas Texas area in the spring.we want to try our hand at raising a few grass fed brangus cows and organic laying hens..where can I get the most information about a start up farm we're lookin at about 10 acres..also what's the difference between a heifier and a cow ? Thanks


Cdebra
4/5/2015 1:29:16 PM

YES JOHN, there is a ration for grazing cows. 1 head for every 5 acres. They eat the grass fast. unless you can divide the pasture. Put them on half the pasture and when they finish off the grass move them to the other side and let the first side grow back again.


john
4/4/2015 11:22:26 AM

I am think of starting a small operation on 10 acres and wondering if there is a ratio of cows to grazing acres for organic beef standards?


jojoruns
9/20/2013 4:59:36 PM

Thanks for this great article. our family raises 100% grass-fed Wagyu, as well as pastured, heritage poultry and pigs on our small sustainable farm in Florida. We ship nationwide, but of course we love to service local customers! Learn more about our farm by visiting Pasture Prime Wagyu's website. Spread the word! Grass-fed farming can make a HUGE difference in the environment and for our health.






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