First and foremost, there is a difference between grass-finished beef and grass-fed beef. The most notable difference is that grass-finished beef comes from cattle that eat nothing but grass and forage (hay) their entire lives. These cattle have never had any supplemental feed. Grass-fed, on the other hand, can mean that they started out on grass but at some point switched to a supplemental feed or moved to a fully grain-based diet. Unfortunately, a cow that at one point in time ate grass, can be actually labeled as a grass-fed cow.
In layman’s terms, how a cow is finished is in reference to what it eats before going to market. While most cattle spend the majority of their lives in pastures eating grass before moving to a feedlot for grain-finishing, grass-finished beef cattle remain on a pasture and forage diet.
How is it possible to grass-finish cattle year-round in a state that can experience harsh winters and sometimes out-of-season snowfalls? This is where forage comes in. If delicious and bright green pastures aren’t available, grass-finished cattle may eat a diet consisting of hay and silage.
If you’re not entirely familiar with raising cattle, this is also why herds rotate different pastures. Not only is it beneficial to the cattle for their health (new grass to feed on), but it’s also great for the soil.
If consuming grass-finished beef is important to you, it’s good to know the difference and how a package labeled as grass-fed can be deceiving. You can – without a doubt – trust that our grass-finished beef is what’s best for the cattle. Grass-finished beef is also very beneficial to people too. While beef, in general, is not considered a primary source of omega-3 fatty acids, one 3.5-ounce serving of grass-finished beef offers 15 milligrams more omega-3 than other kinds of beef.
Furthermore, grass-finished beef provides four percent of the Daily Value for vitamin E compared to 1.5 percent for grain-fed beef.
Beef — from big box stores and chain grocery stores — typically comes from a facility that isn’t necessarily focused on health or animal welfare, but rather, substitutes variety for low prices and faster turnaround. Most cattle go to market weighing between 1,000 and 1,250 pounds, which may take longer for grass-finished beef cattle to achieve than grain-fed beef cattle. When it comes to quality, grass-finished beef is leaner and sometimes described as “gamey” when compared to grass-fed beef.