• But Your Cows Do Eat Grass!?

    Posted on May 25, 2011 by in Agvocate, Cattle, Environment


    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”

    Cows Eating GrassMy 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!





  • Pingback: Ask A Farmer: Does feeding corn harm cattle? | Agriculture Proud

  • Pingback: Start a conversation with a farmer and a customer « Agriculture Proud

  • Pingback: thhresources.com » Blog Archive » No bull

  • Pingback: No bull | Substance Abuse

  • Pingback: on Small Businesses » Blog Archive » No bull

  • Pingback: on Small Businesses » Blog Archive » Share this on:

  • Pingback: No bull – start a conversation with a farmer | Urban Farming

  • http://twitter.com/wwwFARMERSge FARMERS.ge

    hello there,nin Georgia we are feeding livestock, only by grass. for example Sheep we are giving Barley only when in Winter, when they deliver lambs we are feeding them to be strong, others we don’t use any extra feeding.nnalso for cows we use same way.nnbut reason of this is that barley and other concentrates are expansive for farmers, also reason is that we were past in Soviet Union and our Farming mentality is not developed and our people are just now starting to think how to develop there knowledge in Farming.nnThank for Haley Farms, what I found this Web and I am reading all here as Hungry Wolf :))nnGood Lucks to American Farmers from Georgian Farmers :)nnBeka Gonashvili

  • http://GrowMap.com Gail Gardner

    Hi Mike.u00a0 Are you saying that your feeder cattle are not on grass at all and you are feeding them hay free choice and grain OR that they ARE on grass and being supplemented with hay and grain? nnIf you have sufficient grass available, what would be your reason for grain finishing? I know that some believe that grain-finished beef tastes best while others say grass-fed beef that is not grain finished tastes better. (That is probably a personal choice and likely based on least partially on what someone is used to eating.) nnHave you seen any of the research on nutritional differences between grain-finished and grass-fed beef? There is some of that type of information at http://www.eatwild.com/healthbenefits.htmnnI am assuming you feed yellow dent corn. Is it GMO? Where you are is there mostly GMO corn and soybeans now or do some growers still plant non-GMO? nnWhen we talk about grass-fed most of us mean finished on grass instead of grain and many of us do know that most feeder cattle – at least the cattle where I am in Texas, are turned out on grass pastures between weaning and when they are shipped to the feedlots. nnThese pastures are usually some variety of coastal bermuda in the summer and planted oats or wheat and rye grass in the winter supplemented with either baled hay of many types and/or silage, cottonseed or various grains with corn being the most common. nnMost feeder cattle here are owned by major corporations and raised on gain by the ranchers who lease thousands of acres of land. A few like Thigpen own their land, but I believe they also have gain contracts. Those feeder cattle are almost all injected with hormones and antibiotics. nnI asked neighbors if they would do that if they were going to eat that steer and they don’t know why anyone would care. I wonder if all those hormones are at least partially responsible for early maturity and taller, larger people. When I was young 6’2″ was really tall. Now being over 6′ is common. nnThe primary reason someone like me asks these kind of questions is because we want to be healthier and are interested more in the nutritional value of foods than the taste alone.

    • http://twitter.com/farmerhaley Mike Haley

      Hey Gail,nnCorrect, after we wean our calves they no longer have access to pasture. u00a0We just dont have enough grass on our farm for both the cows and to finish cattle out on grass. u00a0Also, my family and neighbors that purchase beef from us do prefer the taste of grain finished.nnNutritional differences, thanks for the link! u00a0Thats the first time I sawu00a0vitamin E referenced. u00a0Omega 3 is referenced a lot, but when you actually look at the research the difference between grass finished and grain finished is minimal, and eating one serving of fish will make up the difference from eating grain finished beef the entire year. u00a0In the end, it dont matter what you eat, moderation is key and make sure you keep a balanced diet.nnYes, we feed yellow dent corn as sweet corn is not suitable for feeding cattle. u00a0We feed our own corn. u00a0We do raise some GMO corn in fields that are prone to certain weed or insect problems, but for the most part we raise non GMO corn. u00a0As for your fears about GMOs making people taller, I think this trend has been happening for decades, and since GMO grain has only been on the market since the mid 90s is probrably not the culprit.nnThanks for your input, agricultureu00a0encompassesu00a0several different types of farmers each of which is working to supply food to consumers that value different things in their food. u00a0Hope you stop by again!

      • http://www.myqute.com/blog kelly

        Hello Mike, how do you know your customers preferred grain-finished beef? You conducted a survey?

        • http://haley-farms.com Mike Haley

          I know because they tell me. A novel concept of actually talking to your customers isnt it?

  • http://twitter.com/niltiac Caitlin Fitzsimmons

    The problem I have with grain finishing is that the cattle are often confined and uncomfortable for months on end, it uses more natural resources tying us to the oil economy and the big CAFOs are also big polluters. I enjoy a quality product but not at the expense of ethics. And I have to disagree with u00a0you – there are different ways of raising cattle and some of them ARE wrong. However, it sounds like you and Pam are doing most things right.n

    • http://twitter.com/farmerhaley Mike Haley

      Thanks Caitlin,nnI agree there are always wrong ways do things. u00a0I do not like to use a broad brush for any particular type of operation though. u00a0I have been to some farms that made me sick, on the other hand some of the largest operations I have been to though impressed me as to what they were doing to protect the environment and operate in a sustainableu00a0fashion.u00a0

  • Brandi Buzzard

    This conversation comes up a lot down here in Australia too. Unfortunately, people think that cattle eat grain their entire lives. Great post!

  • Katie Lukens Pinke

    This is fabulously informative, Mike and I am going to share with many friends. I was raised on beef cow/ calf operation where I learned three key things about steak from my grandfather. 1. The best steak is finished on corn. 2. The best steak should be eaten in the dark. 3. We don’t buy steak sauce.

  • http://twitter.com/farmnwife Judi G.

    We don’t use implants in our cattle either. It must be the Simmentals. Ours grow plenty fast without it.nKeep up the good work.n@farmnwife

  • http://blackinkwithcab.com/ Laura Nelson

    Great post, Mike. We get questions on grass-fed v. grain-fed all the time. People are always so shocked when I answer, “Nearly all cattle are grass fed…” Of course, then taking a bite of a deliciously marbled steak helps make the point for grain finishing!