Dennis Starkey
Hillview Farm
R.R. #4, Durham, Ontario N0G 1R0
Tel:  (519) 369-6966

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Grassfed Basics

What are "grassfed" animal products?

Most ruminants, including cattle, sheep, goat, bison, are raised on pasture for the first months of their lives. The vast majority of them are then transported to distant feedlots where they are "finished" on a grain-based diet. Typically, the animals are fed a variety of drugs and feed additives to speed their production and to minimize the health problems that come from eating an artificial diet and living in stressful, crowded conditions. This is the type of meat that you find in most grocery stores and restaurants. Even most organic meat is finished on grain and often in feedlots.White Calf

Grassfed animals, by contrast, are raised from birth to market on family farms. Their diet consists of freshly grazed pasture during the growing season and stored grasses (hay or grass silage) during winter months or drought conditions.

The animals live such stress-free lives that they are rarely ill and do not need to be treated with pharmaceutical drugs. They are not given hormonal implants and growth-promoting additives because there is no need to rush them to market. Their products are healthy, wholesome, and natural in every sense of the word.

Other terms for grassfed products may include "pasture-raised", "pasture-finished" or "grass finished".

Finishing animals on pasture requires more knowledge and skill than sending them to a feedlot to be fattened on grain. For example, in order for grassfed meat to be succulent and tender, the animals need an ample supply of high quality forage, especially in the months prior to slaughter. This requires that the soils be fertile and rich in organic material. Also, the animals' grazing patterns must be closely monitored or the grassland will be grazed too little or too much, compromising its quality and future availability. Because of all the attention devoted to the forage, some people who raise grassfed animals refer to themselves as "grass farmers" rather than ranchers.

Don't be confused between "organic" animal products and "grassfed" animal products.

Many people who are concerned about nutrition and the environment buy organically certified meat and dairy products. These products are better than conventional ones because they are free from antibiotics, artificial hormones, and pesticides. Unfortunately, many organic dairy and beef producers raise their animals in confinement and feed them grain and other feedstuffs rather than the natural diet of fresh forages (grasses). Feeding large amounts of grain to a ruminant compromises the health of the animal and reduces the nutritional value of its meat whether the grain is raised organically or conventionally.

Other articles

  Why grassfed is better than organic
  You are what your animals eat
  Confused about fat? Choose grassfed!