The difference between finishing cattle on grain instead of grass is ultimately taste, and at Tony’s we prefer the enhanced marbling, and flavor from grass-fed, grain-finished beef.
What does “grain-finished” mean?
The ranchers we partner with raise their cattle on pasture, eating grass and forages. Then the cattle are transitioned to a grain based diet for 4-6 months to finish growing. The transition occurs gently, allowing the bacteria in the rumen to adjust to the different nutrient sources. High-energy grains like corn, wheat, and milo are a key part of the superior marbling we’ve come to expect from premium beef.
Is “grass-fed” better?
For grass-finished beef, cattle eat only forage until they reach market weight. It generally takes three times longer to finish cattle on grass than on grain, adding to the cost of grass-finished beef, and the strain on the environment.
Because of the plant-based diet, grass-fed beef is leaner than grain-finished beef, and has a “gamey” flavor—much like buffalo, deer, or elk, which also primarily eat forage.
Grass-fed beef can be difficult to produce year-round in the the US, due to changing seasons and weather conditions. Only about 3% of US beef comes from grass-finished cattle.
Which is healthier, grass-finished, or grain-finished?
While it’s true that grass-finished beef has higher levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids, it’s difficult to see the benefit, since beef in general is a poor source of these nutrients. It’s widely known that salmon or even walnuts are a better source of omega-3s. For Vitamin A and E try some dark leafy greens!
All beef, no matter how it’s raised, is an excellent source of zinc, iron, protein, and B vitamins. If you find it challenging to meet your daily protein needs through whole foods alone, protein bars can supplement your intake.
Stop by your local Tony’s today, and see for yourself why we love our grass-fed, grain-finished beef!