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Grass finishing.

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IGotMyWings

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With my small bunch of cattle, I've looked at niche marketing to make a buck or two. I can't be certified organic as my pasture was in soybeans last year, but I am feeding natural feed in the form of hay/grass. Now, never having fed straight hay/grass without any supplements, etc., how much longer will I be looking to feed (on average) before a calf obtains market weight? I've heard two years total, and I've heard "not much longer" so I'm asking this extinguished panel of experts!
 

backhoeboogie

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If you have a customer base, you need not worry about "organic". Most folks don't really care about all the hoopla. They want no hormones and straight pasture.

Your customers are also going to tell you what size the animal needs to be. Most of them are going to want animals in the 1200 lb neighborhood (14 to 16 months old). Some want them smaller because of freezer space etc.

I sell about a dozen a year to peers at work. Each and every one wants something different. Some are put on feed and some are not.
 

BC

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The secret is going to be to match up the cattle to your forage resources. To finish cattle on grass, you need 2 things - cattle that flesh easily and high quality forage. By high quality, I mean 12% + on protein and with good energy values.
 

Running Arrow Bill

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BC":3qfsr8dh said:
The secret is going to be to match up the cattle to your forage resources. To finish cattle on grass, you need 2 things - cattle that flesh easily and high quality forage. By high quality, I mean 12% + on protein and with good energy values.

We're on a natural grass-fed program. Use quality molasses mineral tubs and block salt. We buy ~14% CP bermuda hay to supplement our bermuda grass as well as native grass pastures. Cattle look pretty good!

We like to use a 14 to 18 month old Longhorn for our freezer which usually is about 650 to 800 lbs. Get about 250 to 275 lbs packaged meat. Plenty for our 2 freezers.
 

Angus Cowman

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IGotMyWings":52ulw6tg said:
With my small bunch of cattle, I've looked at niche marketing to make a buck or two. I can't be certified organic as my pasture was in soybeans last year, but I am feeding natural feed in the form of hay/grass. Now, never having fed straight hay/grass without any supplements, etc., how much longer will I be looking to feed (on average) before a calf obtains market weight? I've heard two years total, and I've heard "not much longer" so I'm asking this extinguished panel of experts!
you do realize that you can market all natural beef and still feed them grain all natural means no antibiotics,no hormones or no feed additives like rumensin or bovatech
 

grubbie

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I just pick a couple of my biggest steers, leave them on grass until 18 months or so. I don't concern myself with weight gain percentages, protien percentages, or anything else. Just as long as they have enough grass to get fat on. Out of the pasture, into the trailer, and off to the processor. We end up with 400 to 425 pounds of packaged meat per animal.The meat is tasty and tender, but like I said, make sure they have enough grass to get FAT on. I don't see why you couldn't advertise as organic as long as you havent used hormones, antibodies, or chemical fertilzer and pesticides on your pasture. Just can't advertise as "certified" organic.
 

grannysoo

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grubbie":349fsskg said:
I don't see why you couldn't advertise as organic as long as you havent used hormones, antibodies, or chemical fertilzer and pesticides on your pasture. Just can't advertise as "certified" organic.

Because there will always be someone with the time and money to sue you about claiming it to be organic. Organic has a special set of rules that must be followed.

As has been said, market them as "natural" and raise them that way.
 
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IGotMyWings

IGotMyWings

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Angus Cowman":10l11igu said:
IGotMyWings":10l11igu said:
With my small bunch of cattle, I've looked at niche marketing to make a buck or two. I can't be certified organic as my pasture was in soybeans last year, but I am feeding natural feed in the form of hay/grass. Now, never having fed straight hay/grass without any supplements, etc., how much longer will I be looking to feed (on average) before a calf obtains market weight? I've heard two years total, and I've heard "not much longer" so I'm asking this extinguished panel of experts!
you do realize that you can market all natural beef and still feed them grain all natural means no antibiotics,no hormones or no feed additives like rumensin or bovatech


In talking to the some of the people who showed an interest in buying my cattle, they are looking for grass fed because there are reports that indicate that grain fed and grain finished beef is lower in certain vitamins, like Omega-3 fatty acids which is something they want more of. I'm not trying to niche myself into a corner, but if I can figure out a way to produce meat that is rich in the goodies they want, and still figure out how to speed up the time frame I'd be happy! I may be asking too much, or maybe I'm just too dense to see that the answer is right in front of me! Now, does anyone know if it's possible to grain feed (staying with natural supplements, etc.) then go all grass and replenish the Omega-3, et al, and if so how long might that take? If you finish for 30 days on corn to "get the grass out" might a person be able to do 45-60 days to put it back in?
 

backhoeboogie

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IGotMyWings":2faw6c9j said:
In talking to the some of the people who showed an interest in buying my cattle, they are looking for grass fed because there are reports that indicate that grain fed and grain finished beef is lower in certain vitamins, like Omega-3 fatty acids which is something they want more of.

You are talking to your customer so you are doing the right thing. Just do each steer the way the customer wants it done. That's it. It doesn't get any easier. Word of mouth will do the rest. Your customer will get exactly what they are looking for, better steak, and cheaper than what they can buy it at the grocery store - let alone butcher shop. They'll be back - with friends. Once they run out of good steak and start buying the grocery store garbage, they'll be back wanting the good stuff for fewer nickels.

Grass fed is the toughest for me because so few folks want it. When I get one of those requests, I just leave it with the herd. It is never finished at the same time as grain fed steers so it is hard to haul it with a group to the processors. Other than that, it is a piece of cake.
 

whitecow

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IGotMyWings":29kyxdoc said:
Angus Cowman":29kyxdoc said:
IGotMyWings":29kyxdoc said:
With my small bunch of cattle, I've looked at niche marketing to make a buck or two. I can't be certified organic as my pasture was in soybeans last year, but I am feeding natural feed in the form of hay/grass. Now, never having fed straight hay/grass without any supplements, etc., how much longer will I be looking to feed (on average) before a calf obtains market weight? I've heard two years total, and I've heard "not much longer" so I'm asking this extinguished panel of experts!
you do realize that you can market all natural beef and still feed them grain all natural means no antibiotics,no hormones or no feed additives like rumensin or bovatech


In talking to the some of the people who showed an interest in buying my cattle, they are looking for grass fed because there are reports that indicate that grain fed and grain finished beef is lower in certain vitamins, like Omega-3 fatty acids which is something they want more of. I'm not trying to niche myself into a corner, but if I can figure out a way to produce meat that is rich in the goodies they want, and still figure out how to speed up the time frame I'd be happy! I may be asking too much, or maybe I'm just too dense to see that the answer is right in front of me! Now, does anyone know if it's possible to grain feed (staying with natural supplements, etc.) then go all grass and replenish the Omega-3, et al, and if so how long might that take? If you finish for 30 days on corn to "get the grass out" might a person be able to do 45-60 days to put it back in?


Here are a few references on that topic......looks like you need to grass feed Wagyu if you want high omega-3 and MUFA ratios.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/...nel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/...nel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/...nel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
 

backhoeboogie

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Pass up all the hoopla and don't oversell what you are selling. Give the people want they want. Don't try to tell someone they need to drive a Chevy when they like a Ford. Find them a Ford.
 

Workinonit Farm

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backhoeboogie":zdzei53i said:
Pass up all the hoopla and don't oversell what you are selling. Give the people want they want. Don't try to tell someone they need to drive a Chevy when they like a Ford. Find them a Ford.

:nod: :nod: :nod: :nod: :nod:

It works for me.

Katherine
 

Hoosier Pete

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I would discourage going from grain feeding back to grass as there is just too much difference in the energy of the 2 feeds. In order to get a "finish", weight gains need to remain high in order to build intramuscular fat (marbling). Going from grain to grass your weight gains will go backwards and that will lead to an unsatisfactory eating experience. Young calves need high protein more than energy and as they grow and mature the need for energy (calories) goes up as the need for protein decreases. The more calories you eat the fatter you get and it's fat that makes beef taste good, along with hunger of course. My $0.02 worth
 

2/B or not 2/B

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IGotMyWings":21ztc1g0 said:
Now, does anyone know if it's possible to grain feed (staying with natural supplements, etc.) then go all grass and replenish the Omega-3, et al, and if so how long might that take? If you finish for 30 days on corn to "get the grass out" might a person be able to do 45-60 days to put it back in?

My understanding on 30 days short corn finishing (which is what we do) is that it gets the grass taste out, not the grass benefits, which developed over the course of the animals life. It also helps whiten the fat. Longer grain finishing eventually depletes the extra CLA, omega-3's, vitamin E, beta-carotene, etc. I'm not sure, but I don't think you could put all those nutrients back in such a short amount of time. I tried to find the article where I got this info, but I couldn't. I think I have it somewhere in my giant binder of cattle info...

The steer we just slaughtered was 13 mos. old and weighed 926 lbs. live. He'll probably be aged 10-14 days and will be very, very tender. I don't know how long it takes to get a grass fed animal to 1,200 lbs. I guess it depends on how much grass you have and the quality. For us it would take a good while since most of our gains come only in the spring when the grass goes bonkers. The older the animal the less tenderness, especially for grass fed, and then longer aging is needed to get it back. But if there isn't a lot of fat cover on the carcass, which is often the case with grass fed animals, long aging isn't even possible. Also, the older animal will have a more pronounced grass taste and yellower fat than the younger one, which may take more than 30 days grain finishing to counteract.

my 2 cents...

For a while I kept thinking I was doing something wrong by not getting my grass fed yearlings up to 1,200 lbs. and fat and sassy like the ones I saw at the fair, but then I realized I was comparing apples to oranges and that we really weren't doing so bad after all. Good luck with whatever you try.
 

Susie David

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We have been selling our "grass finished" beef to a select market for a few years now and haven't grain finished one in six years. The key to getting the animal to slaughter weight is the quality of the feed that you put in front of them. Ours are on pasture now with all the grass and knapp weed that they can eat. We also have a friend that has a hydroponic greenhouse so we get all the over production all year long and feed good alfalfa all year. Our fall steers will be getting a suppliment of oat hay when it comes in, could be just me but it seems to add a nice flavor to the beef and the steers love the stuff.
IMF is developed over the life of the animal, stuffing it with grain during the last few months puts on pounds but in my opinion, most of that ends up the the rendering barrel.
Customer education is key in selling to your "niche" market...for us it is.... We won't sell you grass finished beef unless you try some and know that it is 1. leaner 2. has a beef aroma 3. deepr red in color 4. the fat is yellow or cream colored from tyhe beta carotine in the animals diet 5. has a more pronounced beef flavor. These things you don't find in boxed beef from the super market.
We are often asked why our beef is better than what Costco sells, we simply tell the folks that we can do something that the stores can't....show them the steer's great-grand-mother.
After awhile you just seem to know when the individual animal is "ready" or one may just need to move on...we just processed a nice Lim cross steer that could have hung around till fall but learned how to squeeze through a four wire fence...still a 1100# animal.
And that's my two bits worth... asked for or not.
Dave Mc
 

Jogeephus

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Susie David":2cnd2wm3 said:
We are often asked why our beef is better than what Costco sells, we simply tell the folks that we can do something that the stores can't....show them the steer's great-grand-mother.

SD, now that is a good positive way to promote your product without knocking other methods of production. I commend you on this cause it speaks volumes about your operation but mainly it tells me you are letting quality sell itself which in my opinion will always be the case. :tiphat:
 

options

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I was told many times alfalfa was not a grass. Was I misinformed?
 

SRBeef

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Susie David":2f0xkm93 said:
We have been selling our "grass finished" beef to a select market for a few years now and haven't grain finished one in six years. The key to getting the animal to slaughter weight is the quality of the feed that you put in front of them. Ours are on pasture now with all the grass and knapp weed that they can eat. We also have a friend that has a hydroponic greenhouse so we get all the over production all year long and feed good alfalfa all year. Our fall steers will be getting a suppliment of oat hay when it comes in, could be just me but it seems to add a nice flavor to the beef and the steers love the stuff.
IMF is developed over the life of the animal, stuffing it with grain during the last few months puts on pounds but in my opinion, most of that ends up the the rendering barrel.
Customer education is key in selling to your "niche" market...for us it is.... We won't sell you grass finished beef unless you try some and know that it is 1. leaner 2. has a beef aroma 3. deepr red in color 4. the fat is yellow or cream colored from tyhe beta carotine in the animals diet 5. has a more pronounced beef flavor. These things you don't find in boxed beef from the super market.
We are often asked why our beef is better than what Costco sells, we simply tell the folks that we can do something that the stores can't....show them the steer's great-grand-mother.
After awhile you just seem to know when the individual animal is "ready" or one may just need to move on...we just processed a nice Lim cross steer that could have hung around till fall but learned how to squeeze through a four wire fence...still a 1100# animal.
And that's my two bits worth... asked for or not.
Dave Mc

Good post, information and positive approach. I second Jog. comments. You can show them the steers great grandmother, but more importantly you can show them and tell them about exactly everything that steer has eaten, drank and been treated with through its lifetime. This is particularly important when compared to much of the imported lower cost beef.

Not good and really no benefit in the long run to say negative things about your competitors. Sell the positive points (known inputs) of your own product. Thank you SD. Jim
 

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