Grass vs. Grain

There's a lot of hubbub about cows that are grass-fed versus cows that are grain-fed. By definition, grass-fed beef comes from cows that eat grass and forage for the majority of their lives, while grain-fed beef comes from cows that spend the majority of their lives eating grass or forage, and for the last four to six months of their lives, are fed grains, hay, forage, and local feed. Cows that are "finished" with a grain diet tend to produce beef with richer marbling, which impacts flavor. Grass-finished beef tend to be leaner and what some call a "gamier" flavor.

Is one healthier than the other?

Grass-fed beef is often touted as being the healthier of the two options, as it tends to produce leaner beef. Grain-fed cows gain weight more quickly and at the end of their lives, giving them a fat layer that is less common in grass-fed beef. While a cow's diet does impact the fat content of its meat, there are many other important aspects to consider when purchasing beef.

Where's the beef (from)?

It's true that corporate farms that produce grain-fed beef often only feed their cows grains their entire lives. These cows spend their lives in feedyards so they hit their grade weight more quickly, and sometimes are given FDA-approved antibiotics or hormones to treat and prevent disease, or promote growth. These corporate farms are under pressure to produce large quantities of beef quickly, so they use these time-saving measures in order to meet market demands.

Local is better

On the flip side, your local beef farms are pasture-raising their cows for the majority of their lives. It's only for those last few months of their lives that the beef are also fed grain in order to achieve that flavorful fat layer. Because local farmers aren't working with the large quantities of beef that a corporate beef producer does, they're able to take more time and care when raising their cattle.

Organic and naturally-raised

Two other popular adjectives associated with beef are "organic" and "naturally-raised." You may have seen these words on packages of beef, but maybe you weren't sure what they mean. Here's the difference between them:

For beef to be certified organic, it must be fed only 100% organically grown feed and never receive any antibiotics or growth-promoting hormones.

Note: Just because a cow has been fed an organic diet, it does not mean that cow was grass-fed. Organic beef comes from both grass and grain-fed cows.

Cows that have been naturally raised never receive any antibiotics or hormones. Can be fed grass or grain.

So what do you sell at Sugar Valley Meats?

The majority of our beef is produced locally and never comes from a corporate farm. We work with a variety of local farmers, and each farmer raises their cows differently. What we are sure of is that none of the beef we sell is treated with unnecessary hormones or antibiotics, and all of our furnished beef is produced in the state of Ohio.

Grass-fed Grain-fed Certified Organic Naturally-raised Locally-raised
Majority of life spent eating grass or forage
May spend time at a feedyard
May be given FDA-approved antibiotics
May be given growth hormones
May be fed grass
May be fed grain
Fed only organic feed

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