Grass Fed with Supplements?
I found a local farmer who sells grass fed beef. His prices are great but I have a question. His website says he supplements with sunflower seed and flax seed to make the meat more tender. Is this good for the cows or for those of us eating the cows? Can cows digest seeds or is he having to force it and by what means would he be doing so without antibiotics etc.?
Your post prompted me to do a little searching about that. Apparently, it is an approved practice (at least the flax seed part) by the association that "oversees" the grass fed beef industry. It's done to fatten the cattle prior to market. More weight = more money, the same motivation behind the grain-fed feedlots. However, the choice of flaxseed (over corn, for example) is that the plant based omega-3 fats from the flax will yield a higher omega-3 ratio to the cattle's meat. I can't find a thing regarding the benefit of the sunflower seed supplement, other than increasing weight. Seems to me, however, that it might undo the omega-3 benefit of the flax, if in fact there is any. I'd be tempted to find another supplier and it will prompt me to quiz my own a little before i restock next time.
I have read that grazing animals do not end up with more omega 6 when fed grain. They just would have less omega 3 than if they ate grass. Therefore conventional beef is healthier than conventional chicken.
Grass fed is of course desirable if you can afford or find it, but don't get hung up on it. I'm lucky that in England cows and sheep are raised outside with grass for the majority of their lives. I do try to look out for animals which have been treated well but I don't get hung up on a bit of supplementation.
I'll also note that antibiotics are not used to force animals to eat things, not sure where OP got that from.
Antibiotics are not force feeding, but they are surely used to promote weight gain in livestock for economic reasons.
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All conventional beef cattle are grass fed until approaching time to go to market. Then, they are moved to feedlots where they're loaded with grain and pumped with medication to encourage appetite, weight gain ($$$$) and suppress disease in their stressful, manure flooded environment. Whether Omega-3s are reduced, or Omega-6's are increased is unimportant. The ratio of O6 to O3 still becomes less than optimal. Some conventional beef is fine, I think, if you can at least find it guaranteed to be antibiotic free, and if you also have other good animal sources of Omega 3, like oily fish.
Originally Posted by MuchLove
It is important because not everyone can afford 100% grass fed beef and the knowledge that grain feeding does not increase omega 6 can help them choose conventional beef over conventional chicken. Hell I'd chose conventional beef over organic chicken.