Grass Fed/ Grain Fed – what’s it all about?
One of our most common questions being ask is “is your beef grass fed or grain fed?” as we don’t label either of ours grass or grain fed. The Grass Fed/ Grain Fed labelling is a confusing subject due to a lot of marketing talk so we don’t call our beef either. The beef we buy are cows raised on small farms and are fed a healthy diet. This means they are fed on grasses like alfalfa and graze naturally, however like most ‘grass fed’ beef they are also fed supplementary feed for a balanced diet and these do contain some form of grain.
Grain feeding became popular in America due to the corn subsidies farmers are given for growing corn and the majority of US beef is grain fed. It also makes things easy for the huge feedlots that are common in countries like the US and Australia and enables farmers to raise large amounts of beef in dry barren deserts. The corn gives the meat more marbling and more of a rich buttery taste. It’s also more forgiving for the chef and will stay moist if accidentally over cooked.
Grass feeding is certainly more of a natural option, but requires more land so isn’t popular for mass production. A well run cattle farm can benefit the land and is a major part of regenerative farming. While we all know how bad feedlots are for the planet, it’s often forgotten how beneficial cattle are to the soil and the environment when part of a well run farm. Grass Fed beef has a more beefy flavour and is high in omega-3 and vitamin E. Although the grain fed flavour has become more popular in recent years, many do prefer the natural beef flavour of grassfed. But in reality it’s not so ‘black and white’ many grain fed cattle will have spent the majority of their lives on pasture, then intensively fed high amounts of grain in their final few months. Then the majority of grass fed cattle are fed supplementary feed, which includes grains. Most countries where beef is raised have temperate climates, so additional feed is needed during the cold snowy months or the high heats of summer when the grass is either too frozen or been scorched by the summer heat.
Here in Thailand, although the grasses are green and lush during and after the rainy season, come the hot season the cattle need additional feed to keep them healthy.