Cows cannot digest grain properly. Those who support the grainfed method will no doubt come out of their chairs at the reading of such a statement, given the “graining” of cows is such a mainstay. The statement is nothing personal, but it is a fact. This was the reason why we started with grassfed cows. It was only later I learned the benefits of such a technique go beyond that of simple digestion.
This term has become synonymous with the mass-produced hamburger. The process, however, has come under some scrutiny for several reasons, some of which are listed below.
- By-product feedstuffs
- This is a combination of candy, potato waste, bakery waste, starch and pasta. This is filler around the “corn” or “grain” generally used in feed lots. The term harkens back to the saying, “You are what you eat” and given the information, the cows attempting to digest such material would not produce the best product. (http://www.eatwild.com/animals.html)
- Grain (and by-product) contributes to a substantial rise in the risk of e-coli forming in the meat. In the late 1990’s, a study was done on grain-fed cattle comparing the e-coli increase compared to that of grassfed cattle. The result was 6,300,000 cells of e-coli per gram of digesta verses 200,000 for that of grassfed cattle. (http://www.eatwild.com/animals.html)
- Most feedlot cattle are given hormones, pesticides, and other chemicals to facilitate weight and growth. Other injections supply a preservative which acclimates it with domestic shipping.
Grassfed – Elemental Organic Farming
The comparison between grassfed and grainfed is stark. If there is any wonder why such differences exist, it should be noted that nature was designed to feed off of itself. Cows were made to eat grass and expel the undigested seeds within their stool. The soil is naturally fertilized by the waste, and during its breakdown, the seeds within the stool find their way to the soil itself thereby creating a new cycle of growth. This natural process lends itself to certain outcomes, some of which are listed below. All are positive.
- Less Fat, Fewer Calories
- The main reason animals are fed large amounts of grain is that they grow. The net result of a high grain diet is fattier meat. Products from feed lot animals have from one-third to three times more fat than animals on pasture. If the average American simply switched to grassfed from grainfed it would save them over 17,000 calories per year. (http://www.eatwild.com/healthbenefits.htm)
- Extra Omega-3s, Vitamin A & E
- Although grass fed meat is low in \”bad\” fat, it gives you from two to six times more of a type of \”good\” fat called \”omega-3 fatty acids.\” Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in every cell and system in your body. People who have ample amounts of omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. Remarkably, they are 50 percent less likely to have a serious heart attack. Grass fed beef has twice the amount of Vitamin A, and three times the amount of Vitamin E as grainfed beef. (http://www.eatwild.com/healthbenefits.htm)
- Pasture Management
- Cycling each pasture out, using the natural processes previously described. Cows are kept on the pasture until the grass is depleted, then moved to another paddock (section of pasture). By the time the animals get back to the first paddock, the grass has regrown. (Not possible? We do this every week.)
- During the hot months of the year, it is good to give an additional supplement of sea kelp (to replace what they are not getting) and salt (helps retain water). In this mix one can mix grass seed which will automatically be dispersed in the cow’s stool.
- Shipping and Sale
All grassfed beef has a similar shelf life to that of grain fed. Grassfed beef is hard-frozen and is just as viable for domestic shipping as grain-fed. There is no difference.
The methods of chemical intrusion do nothing but accelerate the natural processes artificially, most of which produce enough side effects to make a prescription drug commercial blush. Given these effects, it is a wonder that such techniques are even used. The slow progression toward grassfed over the traditional grainfed boils down to the choice made at the supermarket. If the consumer decides that they want healthy, the producers will provide the option.
Joseph Baker has worked in the business world for over 15 years, specifically in management. He has led development and management teams, and implemented budget reductions both professionally and as an independent contractor. In addition, he has led strategic planning and systems of implementation for nine organizations, both public and private, and worked extensively with small businesses.