What Does the Label Mean?

When you go to the market to purchase beef, you are confronted with several different labels. All of these labels can be very confusing! One of the biggest labels with beef is grass fed. Most cattle are raised on a combination of both grass and grain in the United States because of our shortened growing season. Although it is not as common as grain finished beef, it is still very common to find grass-finished beef in most grocery stores. So what is the difference between grass finished and grain finished beef?

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Grass finished and grain finished beef differ in the final stage of production.

For both production methods, the calves spend their first few months of life with their mothers. They drink their mother’s milk and graze on grass pastures. Once these calves reach approximately 500 pounds, they are weaned from their mothers. Calves typically then go to stockers and backgrounders to graze on many different kinds of pasture all across the United States. If they are going into the grain-finished production system, the calves will start receiving grain to supplement their diets. The majority of cattle in the United States are then sold or moved to feedyards where they receive carefully balanced, nutritious diet for an average of 120 to 180 days. In the grass-finished system, the calves will continue grazing on grass pastures until they reach the desired weight. Cattle in feedyards typically reach market weight around 3-6 months faster.

The important takeaway from this is that nearly all cattle spend the majority of their lives grazing on native grasslands.

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For more information, click here.

All types of beef, regardless of the way it is finished is wholesome, safe, and nutritious. No matter what way it is finished, all beef is an excellent source of six nutrients and vitamins, providing more than 20 percent of the recommended daily value, and can be part of a nutritious and balanced diet. The decision between grass and grain finished is really a matter of personal preference. I would recommend trying grass-finished and grain-finished beef side by side like our team did in Denver to determine what your preference is. In my honest opinion, I could tell a difference between the two types but I am indifferent. I think that both kinds of beef deserve a place at the butcher counter, and in my kitchen. Not everyone feels that way, and that is okay! The beauty of choice at the meat counter is that everyone can purchase what they like.

Although there is a noticeable difference

At the end of the day, it is a matter of consumer preference!

Happy Meaty Monday! Check out part two of this blog here.

Rachel Purdy
Princess Farmer

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