What does Grass Fed VS. Grass Finished mean?
Many people are confused and frustrated with the different marketing terms being abused on today's food labels. Terms like grass fed, all natural, and organic are all common words you see on meat labels, but what do they mean to you and what do they mean to the farmer who is raising them?
One thing to understand is how traditional farmers raise beef.
Traditional farmers raise cattle out on pasture for about 75% of the animals life. Life is great. The cattle get to eat the grass and weeds that are growing freely in the pasture and just be cows. But then, for the last 25% of their life, they are brought into confinement (usually a barn or feedlot) and finished on grain like corn, soy or other by-products. They are forced to stand on hard cement, with flies swarming around them because they are covered in their neighbor's poop. Now, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to sleep where my neighbor has pooped.
By raising beef in this manner, it is leading to some health concerns, not only with the animals, but with human health too. Grain fed beef is higher in saturated fats which leads to heart disease, inflammation, and depression.
So how is our farm better? What are we doing to give these animals a higher quality life?
First, picture an open pasture. Within that pasture, we've planted 12 different seeds that provide a variety of nutrients that our cows need. Depending on the time of year, in the spring we'll have grasses like kale, radishes, and turnips and then in the summer we'll have grasses like buckwheat, millet, and sudan. We joke and say our cows are vegetarians so we don't have to be :) They of course eat these grassed before they develop a head which then goes to seed. We divide that pasture into sections with electric wire that allow us to safely move our herd every day. This mimics their native behavior of being hunted by coyotes and other predators.
Because we move the animals every day, use genetics and essential oils to prevent fly infestation, and are aware of the environment around us, we can avoid using antibiotics. Antibiotics that are being used in commercial feedlots are turning into growth stimulants which in tern effect our health when we consume the meat. If we raise the animals efficiently, we shouldn't have to treat with antibiotics.
Overall, Grateful Graze is different because we move our herd to fresh pasture every day. They never eat grain and are always in an environment that they are safe and happy in. Our livestock is also helping to improve the environment rather than depleting it.