I get this question probably 20 times per week. Usually, it is from people who have never bought beef in bulk, but would like to and it is usually followed with,
"Isn't Grass healthier?"
There have been very few studies that are done to compare grass finished and grain finished cattle --- that are from verifiable places and not a sales team. Unless you are on a specific diet that requires grass finished or prefer that taste, I suggest grain finished.
Usually people are surprised that I am suggesting the lower priced product and not trying to make an extra $$$$. Here is my reasoning:
I want you to the happy. This is only 2.5% of our overall cattle business. I am not about to put our beef reputation at risk for just a little extra cash. I have worked for 7 years with Purina to formulate rations that provide you with my personal favorite beef ---- a good level of strong, beefy flavor with ChoicePlus (Upper 2/3 Choice) or Prime marbling. That's my goal every time.
The next question is: What is the difference?
Grass finished is raised in a pasture, just like our grain finished cattle. At about 10 months, we take 2.5% of the top tier of our cattle and sort them off for either grass finished or grain finished. The grass finished are largely heifers that did not breed because they are in excellent body condition and the timing is right. Then we grow them for another 20+ months on grass or forage (hay or silage choppings) --- this longer length of time is why the price is so much more. I have to find space and grass for them for an additional 2 years compared to a grain finished animal.
Grain finished start on pasture and stay on pasture for about 10 months. They are then offered feed consisting of 5 different ingredients in 5 different custom mixed rations with a Purina syrup of all the additional vitamins and minerals they need to stay at peak health. These rations are reformulated and tested every 2-3 months by Purina. At about 12-14 months, we take them into our feedlot at the highest of our 5 rations and feed them that ration for an additional 4-6 months in a very clean, very roomy with excellent shade and water pen.
Next: How does the taste differ?
Grass finished will have a stronger, beefy flavor (but not gamey) and will be slightly less tender.
Grain finished will have a stronger beef flavor than what you get at the grocery store because of our rations, but the tenderness will be like what you would get at a good steakhouse. The reason we are able to get a stronger beef flavor than the store is that we never go over 55% corn - we feed them longer instead of pushing corn in them. I just prefer that flavor personally.
Next: What about allergies, IBS, cancer treatment sensitivity, etc?
If you read above that our ration stays below 55% corn, you can see that we have a bit different way of doing things than normal feedlots that can get to 75% or even 80% corn. That also means that people with Corn Allergies, IBS, Cancer treatment food sensitivities or Diabetes tend to not have trouble with our beef. The reason I mention these specifically is that I have had customers with all of these issues either try my beef boxes and contact me or move from grass to grain finished.
Ultimately, I want you to be happy. We don't sell grass finished cuts because it is hard to stock with the way our customer base is. We always suggest that you try some from your grocery store alongside our beef boxes before you make that large of a decision if you are on the fence. I like our grass finished beef, but I prefer our grain finished beef. I just want you to have what makes you have a full belly, a full freezer and a happy life!