corn feed vrs grass fed

Discussion in 'Beef' started by pike, Feb 26, 2010.

  1. waysideranch

    waysideranch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great point. Never by the grand champ. And we split it as a family and it does bring joy to the kids when their beef is purchased. Its the reward for the hard work. It smokes darn good too.
  2. hog warden

    hog warden Smoking Fanatic

    BTW, for reference, almost 100% of commercial cattle.....those bred to be eaten, vs. those bred as breeding stock, are crossbred. Say a cross between an Angus or Hereford....aka, a black white face or the old generic "black baldy". The hybrid vigor from the cross means an animal that is healthier and grows faster. Most commercial beef animals are at least two and as much as 3 and 4 way crosses. Momma should be a mutt. The bull, a purebred.

    Going back to the 1950's and 1960's, Angus and Herefords both resembled little box cars. They were short, little blocky cattle than would finish incredibly fat. Hogs were the same thing, but this is about cattle.

    All of a sudden, the trend changed. Consumers didn't want all that fat so the trend was taller, longer, thinner cattle. You couldn't breed that out of them fast enough, so growers started crossing them with larger breeds. They went all over the world to find "exotics" like Simmental, Gelbvieh, etc, which were dual purpose breeds (beef and dairy) in Europe. The size of the crossed animals went up, but the quality went down. They were larger, but wouldn't finish with as much marbling.

    In the meantime, the traditional beef breeds like Angus and Hereford went through a transformation and improved in quality. Some of the quality backlash resulting from all the questionable crosses made it possible for the Angus folks to point out and market these quality differences. That only goes so far. IMHO, a good black baldy from today's stock is just as good as the straight Angus or Hereford parent stock it comes from.
  3. rstr hunter

    rstr hunter Smoking Fanatic

    One year we did Scottish Highlanders as these have a low fat content and are supposed to be very heathly for you. Hamburger was very dry and grainy and the steaks and roasts were tough. Went back to Angus.
  4. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Belgium Blue on grass with a very very small amount of Soybean, Corn, Rye and Oats mixed in.

    A little of this breed is left in our freezer. This year, will probably go Angus, but the meat of Blue is hard to beat. Maybe a Piedmontese.
  5. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    that thing looks like it is on 'roids......i see a future in the WWE for that bad boy!
  6. davidmcg

    davidmcg Meat Mopper

    Ok, I'll jump in this one. Our cows are fed primarily good, brome quality hay and set to pasture. They do receive grain supplements and protein/salt licks as needed. the marbeling is fantastic in our Angus. We were in the process of selling the entire herd of Angus off last year and switching to Galloway, but for several reasons that was cancelled. We were as high as 382 cows and calves last fall, now down to 210 cows, 64 yearlings and 6 newborn calves, plus the 12 bulls. Sometime over the next 2 years we hope the big Angus are gone and we have switched over to Low Line Angus. The Galloways and Low Line Angus are both a smaller type of cow with better marbling and a nicer disposition. A typical Low Line cow is 39 inches at the shoulder and weighs 800 pounds. Compare that to a Angus and she is sitting at about 42 inches and is running 1000 pounds. The Low Lines and Galloways both have a wider and variable feed than the Angus and both are more weather hardy than an Angus and resistant to parasites and such. In addition to their smaller size and wider feeding desires they are easier on the pasture and will even make it more healthy. In other words, they don't produce near the amount of manure or manure problems of an Angus. Vet bills are much lower and breeding is easier and come with a higher success rate. The Low Line ribeye is about 30% smaller than an Angus or Hereford, but yields a higher percentage of meat to bone/waste and has a better, palatable marbling.

    A couple of links --

    Galloway ---->

    Low Line Angus ----->

    I have had both the ribeye and chuck roasts from the Low Line and hands down it is much better tasting than the Angus that I raise and can't wait until we switch over. The plan was to have less cattle and sell this place off to something smaller more manageable. But after tasting this meat, we might stay here and grow.

    Gee, I tried to bring that down to an everyday mans explanation. If I got too detailed and somebody doesn't understand, feel free to ask questions from me or one of the links above. I am sure many of you are getting some of this Galloway or Low Line meat from a butcher shop and not even realizing it. Next time your in the butcher shop (not the grocery store) ask them what typpe of cow your getting.
  7. countrysmoked

    countrysmoked Smoke Blower

  8. jimvans

    jimvans Fire Starter

    I don't know which is better. I have had both. Personally I prefer corn-fed. One thing I do know. DON'T buy meat at wal-mart or sam's club. It is imported from south america. Plus it tastes bad. I've tried it on a few occasions and have gotten sick about 50% of the time.

    A little off topic but not really. I was in North West Texas last year and we had a similar discussion on the different taste between Texas deer and Iowa deer. Texas is grass fed and Iowa deer eat a lot of corn and soy beans. There is a definate difference in taste. I prefer the Iowa deer, of course.

    I think it has a lot to do with what you were raised on.
  9. mulepackin

    mulepackin Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Boy was I late getting to this party. I don't really have a lot to add to this discussion, but I'll toss in my 2 coppers FWIW. Having just sold off our cattle this is all historical for me at this point. We raised commercial angus because yes, they are what sell right now. Not just to the end consumer but to the buyers who purchased our calves. Other breeds can and obviously are raised and sold, but so many are almost a niche market. We raised herefords previously and meatwise they were fine. It's interesting the resurgence of lowline angus. I remember the first angus cattle we ever had. While not quite as small as true lowlines they were considerably smaller than anything else at the time. It took a lot of angus cow to hit 1000#. Then breeders started breeding for size, and introducing a little of this for frame, a little of that for milking, and so on to the point where they are today. The certified angus beef deal is really just great marketing. To the best of my knowledge a beef animal only has to be predominately black to be certified angus beef. I am sure that our all black calves from cross cows are still being sold as certified angus beef. I am in full agreement with HogWarden, if I had my way our ranch would be crawling with black baldy cows bred to black bulls. All our beef that is raised for ourselves to eat is grass fattened on native pasture then finished for 6 weeks on grain. A combination of corn, oats, and barley. We used to use sweet COB, but I feel that makes the meat livery tasting, so straight grain now. To answer Pikes original question I think grass fat beef is maybe a bit gamier, but its a flavor I like. Certainly a tougher cut of meat, so the 6 weeks of so seems to be the best blend of flavor with tenderness to me. I'm sure you've tasted plenty of corn fed black angus beef. Probably 75+ % of the beef in high end steakhouses is just that.
  10. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    i was waiting till someone said something on the lines of this. the food industry trend (one that i do not always follow) lately has been pushing grass fed (range or pasture if possible) over grain fed as a prefered beef product. we in the industry make buying decisions based on customer trends.....they bring us the $$. i doubt that the public REALLY can tell the difference since they don't eat beef that much and don't do side by side taste comparisons.
  11. hog warden

    hog warden Smoking Fanatic

    There is a reason the food industry is pushing grass fed. Here is a long term chart of corn prices on the Chicago Board of Trade:

    Wish I could have found a monthly chart going back about 25 years instead of 10, but trust me, prior to 2006, seldom did corn prices trade outside a range of $2 to $2.50 a bushel. The spike in 2007 corresponded with the spike in fuel prices, and construction of ethanol plants. The drop in 2008 also went along with fuel prices (dragging ethanol down with it).

    Prior to ethanol, the livestock industries (all of them.....cattle, hogs, broilers, turkeys, layers, etc) were the primary consumers of corn. That is where most of it went. At $7, nobody can afford to feed it. At $3.50 a bushel, where it is now, it's a struggle. I don't know how many of you folks can double your input costs and sell the end product for the same amount or slightly higher, but I couldn't do it.

    For survival....and not because it's a better product, the cattle folks are pushing grass fed beef. Nothing wrong with that, just something to be aware of. Lay the cards on the table for all to see.

    Corn fed: corn being a carbohydrate that the animals convert to fat, which is stored in a lot of places, but in the best animals shows up as marbling. So if you want tender juicy piece of meat with flavor, go corn fed. Just expect to pay more for it.

    I didn't mention Galloway cattle before, as there are so few of them one might no nuts trying to find them, but they may well be the best beef animals out there.
  12. jcats322

    jcats322 Fire Starter

    This thread is another reason I love this site. I was raised on a farm and we had cattle just for the meat and I have learned a whole lot from five minutes of reading. Kudos to you all!
  13. biggeorge50

    biggeorge50 Fire Starter

    I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned charolais. A friend of mines kids raise 2 steers every year to take to the fair. They select the best one to show and John butchers the other one and splits it with me. All grain fed, very tasty beef, and at a great price. I hope he gets some neighbor kids doing this when his kids outgrow it.
  14. Growing up all our cows were grass fed, but they also had access to grain, but no corn, just grass grains, wheat, barley, rye, ect.. which we used to make chop. so in the winter they ate chop and befor markiting they were on chop. this was some good Alberta AAA beef. nothing like it in the world.

  15. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That's because corn is in EVERYTHING.
    Well not everything but I'm willing to be you go to your fridge, cabinet, look at anything and 99% of the things in there contain something that was made from corn.
    It really is nuts how many things are made with corn...and saying 99% isn't an exaggeration!
  16. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    This is a great thread someday in the future I plan on having a few cows mostly for family and friends and I'm enjoying the info here.
  17. chisoxjim

    chisoxjim Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    i like both, but prefer corn fed, dry aged, and prime for sure.
  18. hog warden

    hog warden Smoking Fanatic

    No kidding. If you are diabetic, you can probably thank corn for it. It's cheap, it's sweet and it's in everything. I've heard more than a few folks claim a lot of our national obesity and health problems can be traced directly back to the 70's when the food industry made the switch from white sugar to corn sugars.

    Personally, I prefer to see cattle and hogs fatten up on it and I consume my corn second hand.

    (Fresh sweet corn in season being the obvious exception!)

    (And sometimes a small piece of corn bread....I'm a sucker for that too)

    (Then there is that corn whiskey issue to consider......)
  19. chisoxjim

    chisoxjim Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    and some folks still sing the praises of Yoshidas... loaded with HFCS, etc. death in a bottle . [​IMG]
  20. rstr hunter

    rstr hunter Smoking Fanatic

    Grain prices are high from historical levels, however grass rents in many areas including Central/Western SD are also at historical highs with little grass available for rent. As the average grain finished steer is at slaughter weight in 18 months and from all I've seen or heard a grass finished steer will take between 24-36 months to finish, whether you own your own grass and need to stock at lower levels to finish out this way or decide to lease someone else's grass to accomplish this, there is a cost that needs to be accounted for. As such, I'm fairly confident that if you ran the numbers on this, you'd find that in most cases, totally grass fed isn't in fact cheaper.

    I also would be supprised that we'd have enough grass on a national level to actually make a total shift towards grass fed beef based on the acres that have been converted from pasture to farmland in recent years due to higher returns in the grain complex.

    That said, as we are currently at the lowest cow herd size since the late 1950's and, at least in Central/Western SD, very little money has been made in the cow/calf or feeding portions of this industry in the last couple of years, I think you will see beef prices bring back profitability to this industry as the overall economy recovers.

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