The way cows are fed can have a major effect on the flavor, texture and look of the beef.
Whereas cattle today are often fed grains, the animals people ate throughout cave man time roamed free and ate grass. You’ll see corn fed would tend to have a yellowish fat content on the surface and on the suet.
Many studies have shown that the nutrients in beef can vary depending on what the cows eat.
What they eat – we also eat as we consume the Beef
Some beef is mass produced and in the US cattle are usually grain-fed towards the end of their life. However, grass-fed beef is common in many other countries, such as Australia.
The highest quality beef comes from animals that are under 36 months of age. Old cows produce highly acceptable beef if properly fattened and processed.
But does the way cows are fed make any difference to your health? Grass–fed beef has also been found to have a healthier ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. It often contains higher levels of antioxidants like vitamin E and A, too.
The Difference Between Grass-Fed and Grain-Fed Cattle
In the US, most cows start out living similar lives. The calves are born in the early spring, drink milk from their mothers and many are then allowed to roam free and eat grass or other edible plants they find in their environment.
This continues for about seven to nine months. After that, most conventionally raised cows are moved to feedlots. Large feedlots are called concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). There, the cows are kept in confined stalls, often with limited space.
They are rapidly fattened up with grain-based feeds, usually made from a base of soy or corn. Typically, their diet is also supplemented with small amounts of dried grass.
The cows live in these feedlots for a few months before being brought to a slaughterhouse.
For example, grass-fed beef in Australia may not be directly comparable to US products, and grass-fed beef isn’t necessarily pasture-raised. Not all grass-fed cows are allowed to graze outdoors.
The term grass-fed isn’t even clearly defined.
But generally speaking, grass-fed cows eat (mostly) grass, while grain-fed cows eat (mostly) an unnatural diet based on corn and soy during the latter part of their lives.