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Is it true ALL cattle are grass-fed most of their lives?

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  • Is it true ALL cattle are grass-fed most of their lives?



    I was talking to a friend who knows a local cattle rancher. He said the rancher told him that ALL cattle are grass-fed up until the last 3 months or so of their life, and then corn-finished. He told him that although it is a popular belief, there is no such thing as corn-fed/corn-finished beef. He said, that as ruminants, cattle must eat grass, and will die if they are corn-fed for any longer than a few months.


    Wow, this was news to me. I'd always thought all industrialized beef was corn-fed/corn-finished. Can any of you verify that this is true, or show any facts that prove otherwise? Really wanna know if this is true or not. Thanks.


  • #2
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    it is true all cattle are started on grass... but industrial beef is finished with corn. and non industrial beef is grass-FINISHED. it is a big difference. compare a steak from the two, it is night and day.


    they only eat corn for a few months, yes, but during this few months at the feed lot they put on a massive amount of weight. this would eventual kill them indeed.


    you contradict yourself when you say:

    "ALL cattle are grass-fed up until the last 3 months or so of their life, and then corn-finished."

    then say

    " there is no such thing as corn-fed/corn-finished beef. "

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    • #3
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      here is some good information from you. please explore more!


      http://www.beefboard.org/news/files/...ished-Beef.pdf

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      • #4
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        I live in one of the biggest industrial beef producing regions of the country, and I work in a town that bills itself as "The Beef Capitol of the World." There are around 12,000 people in this town and, at any given time, about 3,000,000 cattle. (Yes, that's three million).


        I can assure you that not only CAN mass concentrated grain-feeding kill cattle, but it also most assuredly does. I see trucks leaving the feed yards laden with bloated corpses all the time. The reason they have to pump those cows so full of antibiotics and other drugs is to keep them alive long enough for the grain/bovine growth hormone/other franken-drugs to make them grow big enough for slaughter.


        I'm not entirely sure that the "meat" that comes off of these cows should be called beef.

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        • #5
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          Wow Jefferson that is quite an image...and I'm glad the grass-finished beef in my freezer is from a small ranch in Indiana.


          Ailu, if you haven't read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan it's actually a great book. Not Primal, but he goes over the entire process of how cows are processed from when they're born on a ranch until they're slaughtered. The rancher was right by the way, all cows start on grass but "conventional" beef is finished on grain/corn in tightly packed feedlots for the last few months of their lives.

          You are what you eat,
          and what you eat eats too - Michael Pollan

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          • #6
            1



            Hey all, thanks for your replies. This is surely an education for me. I'm not gonna be so impressed the next time someone tells me their beef is "grass fed".


            Thanks everyone!


            @fiddlestix: Please understand my words within the context of my post.

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            • #7
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              Also consider that the corn finished beef are being slaughtered at 14 mos. of age, give or take... and that, according to a vet quoted in Pollan's book that the steers wouldn't live much longer on that diet anyway... it it really makes you take a second look at corn.

              Start weight: 250 - 06/2009
              Current weight: 199
              Goal: 145

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              • #8
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                Generally when a provider says that their beef is "grass-fed", what they mean is "...from start to finish", but it's never bad to ask.

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                • #9
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                  John R you have to start watching that. Because of what the OP posted, some producers are using that nuance to make people think they're beef is something better than "conventional" beef. Sadly, this happens with local ranchers a lot who sell their beef directly, because their beef is raised on grass, but still sent off to be "finished" on grain/corn.


                  Unfortunately it is appropriate to now ask if the animals are grass-FINISHED, and kept on pasture their whole lives.

                  You are what you eat,
                  and what you eat eats too - Michael Pollan

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                  • #10
                    1



                    There's a restaurant called Logan's in my town. The menu proudly boasts that "Logan's serves only midwestern grain-fed beef. THAT'S the Logan's difference." Worded that way, why wouldn't the uninformed consumer think their steaks were better? Propaganda is such a powerful tool.


                    I refuse to eat grain-fed beef after reading "Omnivore's Dilemma". I'm all grassfed, baby.

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                    • #11
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                      Underground Wellness had a great interview with Joel Salatin earlier this year and one of the stats Joel threw out was that it only takes 14 days of corn feeding to flush all the CLA out of a grass-fed cows system.


                      I've also heard a stat claiming it only takes 30 days of corn feeding to undo a life-time of grass-feeding.

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                      • #12
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                        Grain-finishing also changes the gut environment in ways that allow bacteria like E. coli O157:H7 to thrive.


                        This isn't such a big deal with steaks, because the outside surfaces will be seared during cooking, and the bacteria aren't present within the muscle tissue. But ground beef is another story, because the outside surfaces are thoroughly mixed in before cooking. I like my burgers medium rare, so I stick with 100% grass-fed ground beef.

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                        • #13
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                          Pikaia, sorry to say that that "fact" about E. coli appears to be wrong. I think it was a recent SLATE article which delved into exactly what writer came up with that claim some ten years ago.


                          Very little difference, it turns out.


                          Sorry.

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                          • #14
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                            Thanks OTB. I remember reading Planck's piece in the late 90's, and then read the Russel and Diez-Gonzalez' paper mentioned in the Slate essay. It seemed compelling. But I haven't followed the topic since, and missed out on the controversy.


                            I'm not sure the idea is completely dead though, because I'm not convinced by the data presented in the Slate piece. (But I do like the stuff on anatomic location of colonization...that's intriguing!)


                            The 2000 Kansas State study the Slate author linked to only looks at prevalence of O157:H7 in pastured cows. The didn't also measure prevalence of O157:H7 in feedlot cattle. Why didn't they? In the abstract (anyone have the fulltext?) there's also no mention of the amount of bacterial shedding, though they do say that no cow had more than one positive sample. That suggests to me that level of shedding was probably low. But that's not terribly helpful either, because of the lack of a feedlot comparison group. (I get that grant funding is limited, and you can never do the study you really want to do, but the lack of control group in the study is annoying.)


                            And quite frankly, the 2003 University of Idaho study was misrepresented in the Slate piece. It is NOT about grass-fed cows. It is about taking feedlot cows and feeding them hay for some unspecified period of time prior to slaughter. It is a pretty big stretch to apply the conclusions of that study to completely grass-fed cows, don't you think? *shrug*

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                            • #15
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                              I have learned a lot from reading this post - thanks everyone! I am new to MDA and just had my first grass-fed beef last night! Bought it at a farmer's market down the street earlier in the day - it was so different... and great! Had to comment!


                              Reading your posts... knowing what I know now... it makes staying on the Primal path so much easier! One week and counting.

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