In catching up with a good friend and neighbor over the weekend an interesting conversation arose about the American diet and how we as a country are overweight. It was very interesting to hear what my neighbor had to say about me, and why I am lucky. Below is the conversation that took place:
Neighbor: “You grow your own food, and eat grass fed, organic beef so therefore you are not as prone to the same problems as the rest of America.”
Me: “but I grain finish my beef”
Neighbor: “But I drive past your farm I see the cows out grazing all the time, is this not grass fed?”
Me: “Those are the mamma cows and their calves, when the calf is between 6 to 9 months we wean the calf from the mother so she can prepare for next year’s calf and begin feeding the calf grain and free choice hay”
My neighbor seemed to understand what I was saying, and having other things on our minds the conversation quickly moved on, but there were so many other things that I would have loved to continue to talk about during this conversation and was not able to say, so here goes.
We feed our steers a grain based diet; we do this naturally, with no added hormones and only medicate when we have a sick or injured calf. There are two reasons why we raise our cattle this way. First, everyone wants to purchase safe and affordable food products, but others also want more like locally grown source of beef that taste great and they can be sure was raised in an ethical manner. The second reason is because the resources available to us on our farm are best suited to raise cattle this way. In raising cattle this way and selling to local customers I am able to follow up with them to make sure that they are happy with this year’s beef, if they are not I know I need to make a few changes for next year. If they have any questions my wife Pam and I are always willing to answer them, and of course if they wish to see our cattle they are always welcome for a tour around the farm.
Does this mean that farmers that raise cattle differently are doing it wrong? Of course not! There are a million different ways to feed cattle, and just as many different types of customers that prefer their beef to taste in a different way (this is a topic for another day but if you are interested please visit Oliver Ranch). We as farmers will cater to what our customers want, weather that is the best tasting steak, grass fed, or just a cheap source of protein there are farmers out there working hard to try to ensure you have those choices.
So why don’t we use growth hormones in our beef? Many would assume it is because we believe it’s unhealthy for the cattle or the consumer, both of which are false. Our reason for not using them on our farm is because we are trying to raise a premium product. When using adding additional growth hormones you give up marbling in exchange for a faster growing steer. This result in a leaner steer that finishes out quicker, thus a cheaper source of meat for consumers that are not as focused on quality, or like the taste of A1 sauce more than a well marbled steak!
As long as our customers are happy with the way we raise our cattle we will continue to do so as my grandfather did. If you are interested in purchasing a side of beef give us a call, if your taste are a bit different and wish to buy beef raised in another manner let my know and I will point you to a farmer that that can assist ya!