Grass-fed vs. Regular meat

(Harriet) #81

My husband and I buy a locally raised, grass fed/finished half cow every 18 months or so. If we didn’t we wouldn’t eat beef. We’re not extreme on the organic eating end of the spectrum but we both feel anywhere from odd (palpitations) to downright nauseous after eating conventional beef, especially steaks. I remember one time we “treated” ourselves to Omaha steaks I’ll never touch that crap again.

I think it’s a combination of factors:

  1. CAFOs are just hell holes. The amount of stress those animals are under is guaranteed to load their systems with cortisol.

  2. Antibiotics given when an animal is sick are one thing. Most conventional beef is fed antibiotics daily as both prophylactic and to put on weight (as you know, cattle given prophylactic antibiotics gain weight). This is also believed to be a contributing factor in human antibiotic resistance.

  3. Steroids fed to also boost weight. I wonder about the contribution this is making to other human health issues.

Conventionally raised cows reach market weight nearly a year ahead of grass fed. The last cow we bought was about 3 years old. Nice fat but I wish it could have gotten more time dry aging. I have to be very careful not to overcook the cuts, but it makes very tasty stews and braises.


Easy way to find out, at least people that eat normal beef, get yourself tested for Trenbolone. Hell of a drug! I think if that made it through though…we’d know it! Tren’s not one of those anabolics where the results go unnoticed.

(Harriet) #83

I don’t think it’s that simple. The drug has been metabolized by the animal but I’m not willing to bet that renders it harmless or inert and I don’t think it’s any sort of a direct transfer. My point is that human dietary experiments are being performed and consumers are the (unwilling, unsuspecting) guinea pigs.

(Bob M) #84

I thought this was interesting so far (about 3/4 through):

An interview with two farmers who produce beef. Jeff Smith says that where they live, they CANNOT have all-grass-fed cattle. In the part I have listened to, he doesn’t explain why, though I’m guessing it’s the weather and number of cattle (can’t eat grass if it’s the winter, and the more cattle you have, the more feed you need).

He also talks about how many cattle are needed for cities, particularly in light of buying close to where you live. It’s really not possible to do this at scale for many locations. It’s why we NEED CAFOs, at least to some extent.


The LIDL beef is, as per their website, 70% grass fed, 30% silage fed. They explain the silage is for the winter and, IIRC (don’t want to look now), they say the silage is also made of grass.
Still, the beef is marked, at least here in the UK, “70% grass fed”.
Everybody seems to be happy with the solution as the product is transparently marked and people know exactly what they are getting.

(Robin) #86

This probably a naive question…. But that never stopped me before, so here goes.
Does the label “grass fed” imply the cows were actually outside grazing in fields? Is there a way to feed them “grass” in the usual warehoused conditions?


In the UK, at least180 days a year out grazing to qualify as “grass fed”.

Other Countries might have different legislation.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #88

I’m sure the climate has something to do with it. Greg Judy, a regenerative rancher in (Iowa?) manages to feed his cattle in the pasture almost year round. They can apparently push the snow aside and get to the forage. Someplace with more snow might have trouble doing that. Also, what if the hay you feed the animals comes from your own farm? Can that count as pasture-raised?

I doubt most CAFO’s feed hay. It’s more expensive and harder to store than grains are.

(Geoffrey) #89

Yes it does. No cows are raised in a enclosure. All cattle are grass fed. No one could afford to raise or eat beef otherwise.
The term “70% grass fed” is a marketing ploy, in my opinion, because all cattle are grass fed most of the time. Silage is usually made from grass crops that include maize or sorghum or other cereals using the entire green plant as well as the grain. So, still getting grain in there. So in reality they still don’t know exactly what they’re getting unless the silage is broken down and listed on the ingredients.

Of course it can and it doesn’t matter whether it’s from your own farm or not. Hay is still grass, it’s just been harvested at the peak of nutrition. While not as good as fresh grass it’s still grass.

The problem with that is that unless the forage, grasses, are of a winter variety such as winter wheat, rye or oats, that must be planted prior to the fall, then the grass will be dormant and there will be no nutrients in the grass. That’s why we grow and harvest hay to feed during the winter and times of drought. I personally plant rye to keep my feed costs down during the winter.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #90

Ah. Thanks for the clarification. I believe that one of the things that makes it work for Mr. Judy is that he’s been regeneratively grazing for long enough on most of the land he uses (he both owns and leases farms) that the dormant seed stock has been reactivated, including some native winter grasses.

The idea that there can be seeds lying dormant in the soil that can sprout under the right conditions fascinates me.

(Harriet) #91

Silage is usually chopped up corn stalks, like what’s left after dent corn is harvested, and other high fiber grassy or stalk plants.

(KM) #92

I do have to ask about the cattle feeding I see as I drive down, for example, I-10 through Texas. Masses of cattle in tight pens barely able to move, seemingly hundreds if not thousands, surrounded by miles and miles of nothing but hardpan and a little scrub. Are they actually pastured on that most of the year until they’re fattened up for market? It doesn’t seem possible.

(Geoffrey) #93

Those are either feed lots for fattening them up for market or they are sale barns and will be up for auction within a day or two.

(Brian) #94

Yeah… (I live in the US.) Discount supermarket meat is not something I willingly buy and haven’t for several years now.

For the past few years, we’ve bought half a cow at a time, from the farm a mile or so up the road. It goes to the butcher who cuts it to our spec, packages it as we specify, and freezing it. (Someone else buys the other half at the same time, it’s not hard to work out the details here. We could buy the whole cow if we wanted to but a half fits our needs better.) It’s purchased and processed as a single unit and it works out to $X.xx / pound. That makes for expensive hamburger and cheap steak, it’s all the same price and ya kinda get what you get. You usually have an idea of about what to expect depending on how much the live animal weighs but there is some variation. A half cow is usually a little over 200 pounds for us and a little over half is hamburger.

Having bought our meat like that for the past few years, it would be hard for us to go back to buying supermarket meat. Can we find cheaper? I’m sure we can. Can we find better? We’d be hard pressed to find better quality meat.

(Alec) #95

Aren’t grains just a type of grass???

(KM) #96

Grass is leaf of a plant, grain is the seed. Poetically speaking you’d call it the fruit, as in ‘fruited plains’. I’m guessing it’s the highly concentrated carb content that’s the fattener, just like for us, not specifically the plant.

(Alec) #97

So it’s from the same plant. How is that supposed to be detrimental to cows? I don’t get it.

(KM) #98

Corn is detrimental to cows. I am not sure about grains, except that it’s an unnaturally high level of carb and energy and causes them to get fat, which probably isn’t healthy for them and makes their fat which we eat contain a higher level of Omega 6. My objection to the grains is more indirect - I think CAFO is cruelty, and the less time (if any) that my food has to spend in misery, the better. Cows will eat “grains” when they free range, too, and that’s fine.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #99

Yes, grains are grasses, but the part of the plant the cattle are fed is the seeds, not the entire plant, which they would be eating out on the plain. But more than that, the grains in question are not the grasses that cattle evolved on, and not the grasses that evolved to grow on the plains and be eaten by ruminants.

(Geoffrey) #100

I don’t think the subject is about the health of the cattle but rather how what they eat will affect the nutrition in the meat for our consumption.
Personally, I don’t care. It’s meat, I’ll eat it. My metabolism isn’t that sensitive that it matters.