As regular readers know, we produce 100% grass-fed meat - lamb, beef and goat. We have the most experience producing lamb, but we're learning more and more about grass-fed beef this year - in partnership with our friend Ann Vassar. We manage Ann's cows when they're in Auburn, and we market the calves that she's bred.
We're just beginning to market the second of the 8-10 calves that we hope to finish this year. The first, a heifer, graded nearly prime - the highest USDA grade. This current steer graded choice. These quality grades are an estimate of the eating quality of the beef - they measure the amount of intramuscular fat, which relates to tenderness, flavor and palatability.
Our processor - Wolfpack Meats at University of Nevada, Reno, and another butcher have been somewhat surprised by the quality of the beef. I think it's the combination of Ann's ability to manage her genetics to produce high quality cattle and our ability to manage our grass. The final factor is patience - we don't process the calves until we're sure they are ready.
While grass-fed meats have well documented nutritional benefits, I think I'd produce grass-fed lambs and cattle regardless. We grow grass, and we grow it well. By being grass-fed, we're able to be nearly self sufficient in our feed production - we don't need to import any grain. As someone who eats my fair share of meat, I also find that I prefer the flavor of grass-fed meat. The higher levels of Omega-3, CLA and beta-carotene are an added benefit!