Slaughter question for grass-finished folks

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badaxemoo

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We could really use some meat for the farmer's market right now.

We've been butchering in the summer after they've been on grass for a few months. They usually run about 950-1050 pound liveweight.

Would the meat quality be signifacntly different if I sent a steer now? I've got one that might weighs about 800 lbs. He has some fat on him - but he doesn't look as finished as the ones we've sent in the past.

If he isn't gaining at a high rate, could the meat be tougher? We really just want to be able to have some meat - even ground beef and stew meat - to sell along with our pork, to give people something to try that might want a quarter next summer. But I would certainly want it to be good or nearly as good as our summer beef.

Thanks.
 

Bluestem

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I've had good results supplementing with alfalfa. You want them to continue to gain.
Are you taking them to finish? Your live weights sound low. But I don't know your herd.
 
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badaxemoo

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Bluestem":3dl6bu80 said:
I've had good results supplementing with alfalfa. You want them to continue to gain.
Are you taking them to finish? Your live weights sound low. But I don't know your herd.

Yes, I'm finishing them. And the live weights were estimates. The last two I had processed hung at 642 and 596. I think about 630 would be close to average. They are pretty small-framed Black Galloways.

Do you notice any difference in flavor or tenderness if you butcher when they aren't on prime pasture? I imagine your situation is a bit different because my steers haven't seen any grass November. I only know what I've read, and I don't trust half of that since I've found that some of the stuff I've read about grassfed beef isn't what is happening on our farm.
 

Bluestem

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Your weights sound good. I use a small framed Red Angus. Well small compared to most out there. 50 -75 pounds heavier than yours. I have not noticed a taste difference except when they graze wheat or old tough, drought stricken grasses, Meat will taste gamey. Try not to let them lose weight, keep them gaining. Good silage or alfalfa would work. Though I have never used silage myself. Our situations are very similar, except you have winter snow cover and we have a drought.

What differences have you seen on your farm compared to the stuff that's out there?
 
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badaxemoo

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Bluestem":307k2uyr said:
Your weights sound good. I use a small framed Red Angus. Well small compared to most out there. 50 -75 pounds heavier than yours. I have not noticed a taste difference except when they graze wheat or old tough, drought stricken grasses, Meat will taste gamey. Try not to let them lose weight, keep them gaining. Good silage or alfalfa would work. Though I have never used silage myself. Our situations are very similar, except you have winter snow cover and we have a drought.

What differences have you seen on your farm compared to the stuff that's out there?

I haven't noticed weight loss in my steers over the winter, but I sure wish I could find a cheap scale because I don't trust my eyes, either.

I guess what we've found to not necessarily be true about grassfed beef is the care it takes to cook it properly. We really read up on it prior to getting started and for the first steers we butchered we warned people about the terrors of overcooking steaks and using too high heat. We've discovered that conventional cooking techniques have seemed to work just fine. We use the crockpot a lot, but we did prior to having grassfed meat anyway. Steaks have been tender even when cooked to medium-well.

If you don't mind me asking, how many months does it take to finish one of your steers? We've been butchering ours at 24-26 months. I certainly wish I could shave some time off, but the Galloways aren't the fastest growing cattle.

Also, what can I expect for finishing heifers? So far I have retained or sold all of my heifers for breeding, but I have at least two this year that should go for meat.
 

Bluestem

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I have found the same with our beef, cook it like everything else. But there is a lot of poor quality grassfed beef being past off on folks. (Most don't know what finished is.) And that is where the slow cooking must make a difference.
Taking me 21-22 months. Feel confident that we can get it down to 18-19 months.
You'll find that the heifers will do fine. Easier to finish. Will finish lighter.
 

andybob

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I have done both extremes 3 year veld finished native cattle in Zimbabwe, we planted irrigated pastures (kikuyu/white clover), which were underplanted to rye grass for winter grazing, giving a better finish at 20-24 months.
Here in the UK we are finishing on a rye pasture mix North Devon steers are finishing at 22-24 months for the direct sales.
This article may be of some interest; http://www.stockmangrassfarmer.net/cgi- ... cgi?id=367
 

grannysoo

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badaxemoo":1sqzsdb5 said:
They usually run about 950-1050 pound liveweight.

Would the meat quality be signifacntly different if I sent a steer now? I've got one that might weighs about 800 lbs. He has some fat on him - but he doesn't look as finished as the ones we've sent in the past.

If he isn't gaining at a high rate, could the meat be tougher?

Nothing wrong with an 800 pounder. The biggest difference is that your steaks are going to be smaller.

Fat is a good thing, to a point......... but excess fat needs to be removed or as some people do, added to the hamburger.

As to the meat being tougher, that is going to be more of a cooking problem than a weight problem. Some people know how to cook beef, others don't.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Can you have TOUGH hamburg & stew meat?? :shock:
We all should use the term HARVEST when we are talking about SLAUGHTER cattle. :lol2:
Meat will be more tender if you are able to have it hung for 21 days (supposedly the ultimate # of days for tenderness).
 

Jogeephus

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I have a question regarding the harvest ( :lol2: ;-) ) of lighter weight calves. I've played around with different scenarios mainly for my own information and noticed that when I "harvested" a 800 pounder the steaks were smaller, had less marbling BUT it was very tender and it seemed like the fiber length was shorter. It was very good but it seemed like it had a different texture. Anyone notice this before? Just wondering if it had to do with the age of the calf or the calf itself.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Rule of thumb - the younger the more tender. But, after you reach 18-24 months of age, I don't think "younger" is an issue. If you are talking about an 800# 9-12 month old - it SHOULD be really tender - most likely won't have much finish - but tender.
Again, like others said, a LOT goes into the equation. Being on a good plane of growth/gain is necessary.
 

dun

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Jogeephus":3sho7okr said:
I have a question regarding the harvest ( :lol2: ;-) ) of lighter weight calves. I've played around with different scenarios mainly for my own information and noticed that when I "harvested" a 800 pounder the steaks were smaller, had less marbling BUT it was very tender and it seemed like the fiber length was shorter. It was very good but it seemed like it had a different texture. Anyone notice this before? Just wondering if it had to do with the age of the calf or the calf itself.

I think this qualifys for a "Well, duh"
 
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badaxemoo

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Jeanne - Simme Valley":3ggovsnk said:
Can you have TOUGH hamburg & stew meat?? :shock:
We all should use the term HARVEST when we are talking about SLAUGHTER cattle. :lol2:
Meat will be more tender if you are able to have it hung for 21 days (supposedly the ultimate # of days for tenderness).

Maybe "tough" is the wrong word.

"Chewy"?

"Firm"?

We did some blind taste testing at a party last with with hamburger from a cull cow and hamburger from a steer and 2/3 or the people could tell the difference in texture. Both had come off a couple of months of spring grass and both tasted good, but steer hamburger had a little bit softer texture and the cow hamburger was a little more flavorful - but I'm sure this isn't a big enough sample to come to any conclusions.

I've got friends that are grass finishing that claim you have to hang for 18-21 days to get quality meat. Our steers have had pretty decent fat cover for grassfed animals, but our local butcher prefers to hang them for 10-12 days and they've turned out fine. He's afraid of having too much trim past two weeks.

What do you think?
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Badaxe - I think your local butcher (like most of them) doesn't want to tie up space that long. Yes, there might be more trip, but the difference in tenderness is supposed to be more than worth it (according to the info I've been sent from Cornell Univ).
I won't let butcher hang our grain fed beef less than 14 days (recommended also).
 

mobgrazer

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Badaxemoo
I have noticed the issue with the texture if the meat.

How long to hang meat? I think this all comes down to the temp of witch the cow is being kept at. When hanging something that is freshly harvested you are looking for the bacteria growth witch changes the flavor and helps tenderize the meat.

If you are looking to get the grain fed taste out of a grass fed animal they you need to let it rot a lot longer. I hang my freshly harvested animals for 2 to 5 days depending on the type of animal and the thickness of the meat. If I wanted rot it longer then I would turn down my chiller a little lower. With grain fed animals yes there is a big difference in how long there up there to rot because there is a difference in taste as the “grain residue” ferments in the meat.


IMHO… It is best to hang a grass fed harvested animal for 2 to 5 days if you made sure you bleed it as fast as possible after death. Goats are fine at 2 days and an 1100 pound cow would go for 5 days. The important part of my hanging is chill through at 30* then change temp to 40*. Yes the taste will change if you hang it longer at a colder temp but this is up to the person that is eating it. I have read to hang grass fed beef for 3 weeks but no temps were given for some reason.

This comes down to each there own and you can’t fix a cow by hanging it longer.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Everyone has their own opinion & their own "home testing", but research disagrees with Mograzer.
Just do a Google on the subject, I'm sure there should be lots of articles - I've sure read enough of them.
But, I will make it very clear, I DO NOT eat grass fed beef.
 

mobgrazer

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Yes your right there are a lot of articles Jeanne. But I do think that the biggest question that is always left out when this subject comes up would be the temp of witch the meat is hug at. I feel it is left out because it is one of the details they don’t want everyone to know. So yes you can hang that meat as long as you want and the flavor will change but if the butcher hangs the meat in a different temp then a different butcher did then why are we going to stand around and say I like mine hug for a longer or shorter amount of time.


You’ll are right and I think you’ll need to keep talking about something that has no meaning. Yes it is a valid point that’s being made but if you do not talk about the temp the meat is being hung in then what is the point? If I took 3 cows to a butcher and told him to hang one for 5 days, one for 20 days, and one for the amount of time you think is best then witch one do you think will turn out better? I would think it would be the timing that he is used to using because his business is based off his knowledge at the variables he uses. If he or she constantly made the wrong choice then would you go back?
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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But, you talk like you have your own cooler. Not everyone does, and I do believe that all commercial butchers keep their coolers at the SAME temperature. May be Gov't regulated, not sure. So, all the research is being done using this same temperature.
So, unless I had my own cooler, I would listen to research.
 

mobgrazer

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Yes I do have my own cooler. No they do not all have to be set to the same temp. Yes there are guidelines the max holding temp as well as how long you have to get it below a certain temp.

My cooler is for home use only. I have tried lots of different combinations of times, temps, wet or dry home ageing, and have tossed in other off the wall ways to make to make it taste differently. If someone dose have something they think is the best and has the needed info for me to reproduce it then let me know and I’ll give you my thoughts and will try it out if it sounds good.

Most of the info that I’m thinking on the max temps are 13+ years old that I could toss out there. A lot has changed in this time and I don’t want to send someone too far in the wrong direction with the new guidelines that we have.
 
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