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do you grass feed or grain feed before slaughter?

Discussion in 'Feed, Forages and Pastures/Rangeland - Cattle' started by daisymae, Sep 20, 2009.

  1. Sep 20, 2009
    daisymae

    daisymae Just born

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    we have a steer that we'll be slaughtering this fall. it's our first time at raising beef cattle. I've seen a few arguments pro and con to grain feeding before slaughter. right now our steer is on pasture.

    what do you guys do?
  2. Sep 20, 2009
    freemotion

    freemotion Self Sufficient Queen

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    Does it have to be either/or? Could you get some good marbling AND the health benefits of grass and sunshine by graining a little and doing so in the pasture? Just a thought. We did this when I was a kid and the meat was fantastic.
  3. Sep 20, 2009
    jhm47

    jhm47 Loving the herd life

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    Personally, I've always preferred the corn fed beef, but others might have different ideas. The corn fed will have better marbling, and the fat will be white, whereas the grass fed will have yellow fat. I doubt that there is any nutritional difference between the two. There is a taste difference, and I happen to prefer the corn fed.
  4. Sep 20, 2009
    Imissmygirls

    Imissmygirls Lonley for cows

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    My son raises pasture grazed beef and after butchering and tasting the first one, he now finishes his beef with some grain the last couple months.
    I think the pure grass-fed is a bit tough. They need the grain for the tenderizing marbleing.
    of course, if you don't mind chewing, dont' bother with the grain!
  5. Sep 20, 2009
    freemotion

    freemotion Self Sufficient Queen

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    The nutrient profile of any animal on grass is completely different from the same type of animal kept indoors or in a feedlot. So go for both if you can and if you like. You will get nutrition that you cannot buy in a little bottle.
  6. Sep 21, 2009
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Loving the herd life

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    I'm all about pasture raised animals!

    Having said that, I must add. I only have two experiences with how pure grass fed meat tastes.....

    One was from a deer that we killed on a crop permit in the spring/summer. Having only had green forage and no good mast from acorns and such, the meat was extremely strong in odor and didn't have that rich, meaty flavor of good venison taken in the fall. This was a young deer, killed quickly and dressed cleanly...so no chance of the meat being contaminated and causing a gamey flavor.

    The other was from my sister's Highland steers, raised and finished on grass. This was 18 month old beeves, so shouldn't have been tough at all. I can honestly say that it was the worst meat I've ever tasted in my life. I've had possum, coon, sheep, groundhog, squirrel, pig, deer and corn fed beef. I've even eaten store bought, CAFO raised beef.

    Never had worse meat. It had absolutely NO flavor, gristley, fatty texture and tough as an old cutter and canner milk cow. We tried every way possible to put flavor in this meat and it couldn't be done with spice nor marinade, crockpotted, fried, baked or otherwise.....this meat wasn't fit to feed to the dogs.

    My other sister agreed when she tasted it. Even the hamburger was tasteless and dry when used in chili!

    I don't know if it was the cow. I don't know if she even got her own cow back from the butcher.

    All I know is this: I will probably lightly grain my locker beef for a couple of weeks before butchering, just to refine the flavor. I couldn't bear waiting all this time to eat my own beef and it turns out tasting like an old shoe! :sick
  7. Sep 21, 2009
    john in wa

    john in wa Ridin' The Range

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    Beekissed. its funny you bringing up the Highland steer. My little sister bought one and and raised it up on all grass and alfalfa hay and butcherd it. she gave all the meat away. said it was the worst meat she had ever tasted. I dont know if they are all like this or not. i know people who raise them but have never tried it my self maybe some day i will stop in and ask them if i can buy a steak and try it for my self.

    I butcherd one steer last fall with no grain only pasture. he was about 18 months old give or take a month the meat was good but not alot of marbeling and a litle tougher than i was used to.

    this year i am doing one i have him on pasture. but i pull him out and give him 2 coffee cans of grain a day. i have been doing this for a month now and his kill date is Oct 30th. i have noticed he is packing on some extra pounds but at $13 a 80lbs sack i hope it is worth it.
  8. Sep 21, 2009
    laughingllama75

    laughingllama75 Overrun with beasties

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    I love highland and highland cross beef, but I do grain feed the last 3-4 months. I agree with needing to add marbling and fat to the meat.....otherwise, at least to me....it is very strong (but not really "gross"). But we grass feed until then.....
  9. Sep 21, 2009
    reinbeau

    reinbeau Ridin' The Range

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    Consider this - what does grass do at the end of the season? It produces seed - grain. Finishing on grain just goes with the natural progression through a season.
  10. Sep 22, 2009
    amysflock

    amysflock Loving the herd life

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    Highlands are best butchered between 24 and 30 months of age as they mature much more slowly than conventional commercial breeds. I can't see how an 18-month old would have had the time to develop the right muscle fiber structure nor marbling of an appropriately aged steer. The meat also needs to hang 14-21 days for best results. I eat a lot of elk and find it tastes similar (but my hubby also butchers elk very carefully so I don't find it gamey at all like I do venison, which I can't stand). I personally love the beef, and I've only had grass-finished. We'll be getting a 1/4 of grain finished (finished on COB, not straight corn) and I can't wait to try that, too. You also have to be sure to cook it "low and slow" as it's easy to overcook, so that could have negatively impacted your taste experience as well.

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