Grass Fed or Grass Finished? What happened to the meaning of words? Does Grass Fed mean Grass Finished and if not what does Grass “Finished” Mean?
We have been a "cow / calf" farm for decades raising calves that were born on our place for sale into the "commodity" sale barns in our area. Drought has always been common place in our area but the last 10 years have been such that we needed to change how we did things ...to develop sustainable farming and ranching methods that would work on our place. This pilgrimage started in 2011 when we bought our first Angus cattle. Angus cattle are a great breed but with less and less rain we had less and less grass of poorer and poorer quality so we needed a change as our commercial cattle could not do well under these circumstances.
So it was during this time that started thinning our herd and added our Galloway bulls. Galloways are smaller in stature giving us smaller cows and calves that require less of the precious grass! These more efficient calves also require less to "finish" (marble). Plus Galloway cattle have a distinct genetic advantage in that they do not simply "fatten" by adding back fat but they add inter muscular fat that helps create a better eating meat. Galloways are also considered to the the "Best Tasting" beef of all cattle breeds.
In 2012, we purchased two Shorthorn bulls and six Shorthorn heifers. With the Shorthorn heifers, Angus cows, plus our Galloway and Shorthorn bulls we began to taylor our herd for grass fed and finished beef. Our cows currently are an Angus/Galloway hybrid. We are moving toward what is called an "Alloy" which is an Angus, Shorthorn, Galloway mix. It is our hope that they will be efficient grazers that raise vigorous calves that finish easily with meat that is well marbled, tender, juicy with a fantastic flavor!
Our cattle graze on 1,800 acres and are finished on irrigated rye, vetch, hay grazer in the summer and rye grass in the winter. Basically we are finishing on a grass and legume mix, that is our goal. We have native and blue stem pastures that our cows and calves graze on. With drought conditions we have shrunk our herd a bit and fed our calves hay when there is snow on the ground. In 2013, we built a hydroponics fodder feeder, a system that grows grass without dirt in a temperature controlled environment. We use this grass to supplement the momma cows as well. For our finished calves we process and monitor their weight. Our goal is 3 lbs gained per day. With the minimum of 1.7 lbs gained per day during the finishing process. Some of our cattle, have gained 5 lbs per day during the last two months. In 2014, our first calves were made available to the public.
With all of this being said it is our goal to raise healthy cattle on healthy pastures that insure healthy and clean meat for your families plate. We don't feed or supplement at any time with grain and we don't use antibiotics, hormones, pesticides nor herbicides. We truly believe that our meat is BEYOND organic!