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Old 01-13-2018, 08:58 PM   #1
T MARK J
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Default Grass Fed Beef

According to "Treehugger Daily" grass fed cows are having a rough time because the grass they're eating is nutritionally deficient. An article published by "Harvest Public Media" and reported by NPR says researchers and ranchers have noticed the problem just recently.
So, as Q'ers far and wide should we be concerned about this? Does anyone use grass fed beef? And is it worth the price? Just some "food" for thought. Mark
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Old 01-13-2018, 09:25 PM   #2
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Different breeds of cattle, require different qualities of food. Most grass fed beef I have seen is longhorns. They can survive on brush if they have to. Brahman cattle, also do well on poor quality of feed. So I would be curious to what breed of cattle the study was done on. Personally I prefer my beef to be finished on grain anyway. I always finish my steers on corn and sweet feed, so I don't believe in the grass fed movement anyway. because I believe it leads to a leaner, poorer quality meat.
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Old 01-13-2018, 09:45 PM   #3
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I had the opportunity to visit Argentina several years ago.Some of the best Beef I ever tasted,it was touted as grass fed.When we visited the " hastancias", " farms" there were cattle grazing all over the freshly harvested corn fields.The local guy told us that once the corn had been harvested,the fallow fields were considered grass grazing.I do not buy into all this media hyped B@&& S:/+ about grass fed beef.I finish mine on grain and top quality Bermuda hay.Their meat was Quality #1,but I doubt it was "truly grass fed".
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Old 01-13-2018, 10:07 PM   #4
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Mine are grass fed, grain finished. I like marbling in my beef.

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Old 01-14-2018, 02:20 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Hoss View Post
I had the opportunity to visit Argentina several years ago.Some of the best Beef I ever tasted,it was touted as grass fed.When we visited the " hastancias", " farms" there were cattle grazing all over the freshly harvested corn fields.The local guy told us that once the corn had been harvested,the fallow fields were considered grass grazing.I do not buy into all this media hyped B@&& S:/+ about grass fed beef.I finish mine on grain and top quality Bermuda hay.Their meat was Quality #1,but I doubt it was "truly grass fed".
Argentina used to be all grass fed until the introduction of corn and soybean crops about 20 years ago, which transformed the industry to a feedlot one just as it did the USA market years before.

It's a pity because with the Pampas they have what is said is the only remaining region in the world where thy can sustainably raise cattle on grasslands on an large industrial scale. The move away was strictly economic, profits on soy and corn were much higher.

Now there is a return to a few old style estancias raising grazing herds but industrially speaking it's a thing of the past. They are trying to create a label for quality grass-fed beef, for now those estancias sell directly on the open market which does not have a grading structure at all, or most often directly to top restaurants and chefs.

The meat changed flavour with the change, I remember I stopping sourcing Argentinian beef at the time due to it, and using European sourced Angus beef instead. I used to use it unaged and it had an excellent particular flavour that I remembered from my younger days eating Western Canadian and American beef. It's still excellent quality beef and relatively cheap but it's just different.

Like anything else grass fed in itself means little, but well suited breeds that are grazed on quality pastureland can be superb and a nice change from what has become the norm.

Labels like grass fed and such can be useful for marketing but can also become meaningless or irrelevant if taken only at face value unfortunately.

One thing I appreciate about the 'movement' is the reduction in antibiotics, whose overuse in some places is a real pity and a massive world health danger.
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Old 01-14-2018, 04:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowgirl View Post
Mine are grass fed, grain finished. I like marbling in my beef.
Quote:
Originally Posted by One Drop View Post
... I remember I stopping sourcing Argentinian beef at the time due to it, and using European sourced Angus beef instead. I used to use it unaged and it had an excellent particular flavour that I remembered from my younger days eating Western Canadian and American beef. It's still excellent quality beef and relatively cheap but it's just different...
Absolutely! Pure grass fed is nice for a steak but, it is a bit lean for most people who traditionally grill or smoke. It does have a different flavor I really like as industrial feedlot corn finished cattle to me have a bit blander 'off' flavor which is fine if you overcook it or drown it in spice.

Ever wonder why the steaks at your local grocery store are so bland and lean? Cheap industrial production methods modified to suit public demand. Just like lean hogs, the public wants cheap and lean!

A show steer finished on high molasses and corn content feed (less soy) sure does sit well in the freezer! Any 'lean' meal prep to me works best with straight grass raised beef but, grass raised and molasses/grain finished is nice too.
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Old 01-14-2018, 04:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by One Drop View Post
...Like anything else grass fed in itself means little, but well suited breeds that are grazed on quality pastureland can be superb and a nice change from what has become the norm.

Labels like grass fed and such can be useful for marketing but can also become meaningless or irrelevant if taken only at face value unfortunately.

One thing I appreciate about the 'movement' is the reduction in antibiotics, whose overuse in some places is a real pity and a massive world health danger.
With the moves away from Classic 'British" breeds of cattle, the American cattle industry changed a lot. For better or worse depends on your point of view. I grew up around Hereford and Angus which did really well on Oklahoma grass and wheat pasture. They tasted yummy with excellent marbling too!

The 'new exotic' breeds that were introduced grew to slaughter weight faster on less feed so, economics along with changing diet trends away from fat spelled doom for the cattle I grew up with. Personally, a 'black baldy' steer (Hereford and Angus cross) is what I want in my freezer still today, cardiologist and dietician approved or not (I'll take butter on my breakfast biscuit too!).

Marketing and advertising have had the biggest effect on moving family farms to industrial production methods, for better or worse. Beef, pork, and chicken are very affordable to all cross sections of society compared to times of the past. This also means production is now swayed by 'bean counters' in the office and the individual ranchers that used to raise your meat now have basically no say in what is done.

Prophylactic use of massive quantities of antibiotics in industrial meat production should be a concern of everyone IMHO. This is a public health threat that while not materialized yet in the human population at large, is a real potential risk to everyone.

As to side effects, all you have to do is look at what beef raised with artificial growth hormones does to some Cuban immigrant girls who reached puberty at a very young age. While this never was a personal concern of mine, industrial agriculture is putting some people at risk with large scale production methods that may work well in a high pressure over crowded industrial production facility destined for Wall Street stock values and dividends, it puts other parts of society at risk.

Having had the good fortune to spend significant time in Europe, I can confirm that food quality standards and laws in Europe as a whole are much tougher than in the USA. Food to me is much tastier on average, being 'field ripened' more often with farm animals being produced in more 'natural' ways, however, this does come with an increased cost to the consumer.
On a personal note, I'm still sad every time I eat a beautiful red Strawberry that has absolutely no flavor in the USA.
In the USA, it is a mindset that is often hard to overcome. My mother who gets at least three meals from one ~14oz steak scours the meat counter for the cheapest and leanest one she can find because 'it is a better value"! She would never pay $2 extra for one with some marbling. My sister is the same way with 90/10 flavorless beef in a 'chub'.

Don't get me ranting about visually perfect vegetables and fruit that taste like cardboard in the USA versus superficially cosmetically imperfect ones in Europe that really have a nice ripe natural flavor. Just imagine a Strawberry without table sugar that tastes like a real strawberry with natural sweetness! Tomatoes ... at least in the USA you can still find "Heirlooms" grown by elderly people at home and small rural farmers at the local farmers market
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Old 01-14-2018, 12:50 PM   #8
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My sisters ranch raises 50/50 Wagyu Angus, the Angus cows and Wagyu bulls are on desert range land 365 and the calves are sold around 400 pounds to go to feed lots. However they have kept a few calves back for their own consumption that remained on range land for 30 to 36 months and all have graded out prime plus. The Wagyu cross will do well on grass/range land however they need a lot of time and time dips into profits.
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Old 01-14-2018, 02:05 PM   #9
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I like marbling in my beef.
Me too
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Old 01-14-2018, 02:33 PM   #10
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When we raised registered black angus in Okla we would slaughter a calf every six months for our own beef. My father started finishing them on corn because folks didn't like the strong flavour of purely pasture-fed cattle.
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Old 01-14-2018, 06:39 PM   #11
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Default Grass fed, not so much

"Grass fed" is in large part a marketing hype. True grass fed is not going to grade choice or prime and can tend to be stringy and tougher. We raise our own beef and it is largely grass fed but we supplement corn the last 5 months (along with grass) before butchering. More importantly you should look for all natural, no steroids, growth hormones, antibiotics, or ionophores. Also, the age of the beef, ideally is for it to be butchered around 20-22 months old. Part of the push toward grass fed is that it is leaner, but it is some degree of fat and marbleing that gives beef the flavor. In short, not worth the money or ideal for q'uing.
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Old 01-14-2018, 09:02 PM   #12
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Mine are grass fed, with about 2 gallons of cracked corn and sweet feed (and mineral sometimes) between 6 black angus steers I'd say five days a week to keep them friendly and marbled.

3 went to the happy hunting ground this week. Will get them back in about another 10 days or so I would guess, so we'll see how we did this go. Best beef is the beef you raise your own, and I have no problem with grass fed cows at all. Always been healthy and happy.

As well, you will appreciate the steak you are eating even more as you ponder the times it ran through a fence and you had to call your neighbors to help corral it back into the field....yes...with every delicious bite...

I only name the ones that like to destroy and be a pain.... This year, Steve was delicious.
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:00 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Montana Jack View Post
"Grass fed" is in large part a marketing hype. True grass fed is not going to grade choice or prime and can tend to be stringy and tougher. We raise our own beef and it is largely grass fed but we supplement corn the last 5 months (along with grass) before butchering. More importantly you should look for all natural, no steroids, growth hormones, antibiotics, or ionophores. Also, the age of the beef, ideally is for it to be butchered around 20-22 months old. Part of the push toward grass fed is that it is leaner, but it is some degree of fat and marbleing that gives beef the flavor. In short, not worth the money or ideal for q'uing.
Yes, it's all a matter of how you are going to use it and what you want it to taste like. Genetics affect marbling along with their diets so, while there are no absolutes, grass/pasture/"wheat field" raised and corn finished is what most consumers want.

People that raise their own beef have their own preferences that may or may not align with the mass market consumer. Personally, I'm not against the limited and appropriate use of growth hormones and antibiotics but, I am strongly opposed to their overuse and inappropriate use in industrial production.

Out of production cows and bulls aren't going to be made into steaks for my freezer, they are destined for bulk ground beef or discount cuts for some random unknown grocery store if I have anything to say about it. On the other hand though, I also don't eat veal. 18 to 21 months is about where my personal steers fall in terms of age at slaughter and they generally have a good balance of size, marbling and, general texture wrapped in butcher paper or on my plate. YMMV

Also, don't fall for "parlor tricks" like Carbon Monoxide colored beef! Those 'pretty' red steaks on sale for $3 a pound at your local "discount mart" aren't better than the less 'red' steaks at your local butcher, in fact they may be more naturally 'red' even though they may not have as much 'eye appeal' in the display case.
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:16 PM   #14
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This year, Steve was delicious.
ABSOLUTELY!

My junior year in high school, I carried 5 gallon buckets or warm water from my bath tub for weeks to my two 'show' steers, Adolf and 88. I fed, brushed, walked, etc. them for over a year. When their show lives were up, our freezers were about empty and Dad was inquiring when they were going to market. I can't quote myself exactly today but, it went something like this:
I'm not selling these two steers I spent over a year on to make them the best tasting beef I possibly could with a prize-worthy hanging carcass only to be replaced by two random steers out of a wheat field!

His response was along the lines of, can you really eat your two show steers?

To which I replied, the day they were castrated meant they weren't going to die of old age or live happily ever after in the pasture!
My mother had a hard time cooking Adolf and 88 but, she got over it pretty quickly. Both of my sisters went 'beef free' that year!
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Old 01-15-2018, 07:27 AM   #15
One Drop
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sid Post View Post
With the moves away from Classic 'British" breeds of cattle, the American cattle industry changed a lot. For better or worse depends on your point of view. I grew up around Hereford and Angus which did really well on Oklahoma grass and wheat pasture. They tasted yummy with excellent marbling too!

The 'new exotic' breeds that were introduced grew to slaughter weight faster on less feed so, economics along with changing diet trends away from fat spelled doom for the cattle I grew up with. Personally, a 'black baldy' steer (Hereford and Angus cross) is what I want in my freezer still today, cardiologist and dietician approved or not (I'll take butter on my breakfast biscuit too!).

Marketing and advertising have had the biggest effect on moving family farms to industrial production methods, for better or worse. Beef, pork, and chicken are very affordable to all cross sections of society compared to times of the past. This also means production is now swayed by 'bean counters' in the office and the individual ranchers that used to raise your meat now have basically no say in what is done.

Prophylactic use of massive quantities of antibiotics in industrial meat production should be a concern of everyone IMHO. This is a public health threat that while not materialized yet in the human population at large, is a real potential risk to everyone.

As to side effects, all you have to do is look at what beef raised with artificial growth hormones does to some Cuban immigrant girls who reached puberty at a very young age. While this never was a personal concern of mine, industrial agriculture is putting some people at risk with large scale production methods that may work well in a high pressure over crowded industrial production facility destined for Wall Street stock values and dividends, it puts other parts of society at risk.

Having had the good fortune to spend significant time in Europe, I can confirm that food quality standards and laws in Europe as a whole are much tougher than in the USA. Food to me is much tastier on average, being 'field ripened' more often with farm animals being produced in more 'natural' ways, however, this does come with an increased cost to the consumer.
On a personal note, I'm still sad every time I eat a beautiful red Strawberry that has absolutely no flavor in the USA.
In the USA, it is a mindset that is often hard to overcome. My mother who gets at least three meals from one ~14oz steak scours the meat counter for the cheapest and leanest one she can find because 'it is a better value"! She would never pay $2 extra for one with some marbling. My sister is the same way with 90/10 flavorless beef in a 'chub'.

Don't get me ranting about visually perfect vegetables and fruit that taste like cardboard in the USA versus superficially cosmetically imperfect ones in Europe that really have a nice ripe natural flavor. Just imagine a Strawberry without table sugar that tastes like a real strawberry with natural sweetness! Tomatoes ... at least in the USA you can still find "Heirlooms" grown by elderly people at home and small rural farmers at the local farmers market
Yes, the tendency in meat, and all ingredients, here is to eat smaller portions of higher quality, and to better balance carbs to proteins, with more vegetables in relation to starches and meats as well. It is just as satisfying if not more so, but when it comes to barbecue everyone becomes an honorary American and manages to doubt or triple their normal meat portions!

Swiss cows are typically a hybrid milk/meat race that has decent mini yields and decently tender and tasty meat, but there are farms raising Angus, Simmenthal, Charolais, Simmental, and other races bred strictly for meat production, and there are Australian and sometimes Argentinian imports pretty widely available as well.

I buy nicely marbled and pretty aggressively pre-trimmed Angus briskets at a top butcher for about USD $20 /kilo, about $9/lb. This is cheap for meat here, cuts like ribeye and such will easily cost double to quadruple, depending on the age and quality.
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