Grass-Fed Beef

OK, no beating around the bush here. If you like your beef cooked well, just throw this meat out now.  It’s not meant to be enjoyed well done.  Steaks should be medium at most; roasts cooked slow with moisture; and ground is A‐OK dark pink in the middle and juicy. The meat is slightly sweet, lean and has a very natural flavor.

Grassfed beef is extremely lean. The marbling effect that gives conventional, corn‐fed beef its buttery flavor is that of fat. That fat comes from putting the animal on diet of corn and soybeans. A grassfed animal is “fattened up” naturally on grass.

How? Well, it’s mostly a matter of time. Grain‐fed cattle can be harvested at just 15 to 18 months of age and weigh about 1,200 lbs. For a grassfed cow to get to that weight and to have any significant marbling, it takes about 28 to 30 months. Without the high‐energy grains, the cow must eat the right mixture of grass to put on any fat layer.

The farmers we work with, including on our own farm (Wholesome Valley Farm) specialize in only grass-fed beef, specifically Red Angus. They are raised on organic pastures where clover, timothy grass, and alfalfa grass are important parts of the cow’s diet due to their high protein levels. These high energy grasses allow the cow to fatten up some. A lot of it is a matter of skill on the part of the farmer. He must move his animals often to ensure they eat the top third of the blade of grass because that is where the most energy is.

Above is a photo of Aden, the farm manager at Wholesome Valley, moving the cattle to a fresh new field of grass. The line alongside his left leg is the “moveable fence” — a wire, pulled up and wrapped around posts set at specific places throughout the grazing areas, to make sure we move the cattle onto the correct area in the right order.  He calls out (in Pennsylvania Dutch), “Here Cows!” and guides them onto the new patch. They bray and moo and move together in a herd, and then settle in and mow down all the grass within a matter of a days.


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