GRASS FED – What does it REALLY mean?


Do we all know what that means?

Do you know HOW grass-fed BEEF, LAMB & BISON are raised?

There is a lot of confusion out there.  Do you know what you are getting when you buy Grass Fed Meats?

Additional terms are used to make you think you are buying grass fed meats.  Be aware of terms like Grass Finished or Pastured, this means the critter was fed grains as some point in their life cycle.

You want the best tasting, respectfully raised, free range healthy meats; that is why you are paying a premium!  Take the time to BE SURE it is 100% GRASS FED.

You have to ask specifically;

  • Do the animals free range outside?
  • Do they eat only pasture and hay?
  • Are they fed grains or green grain products, silage or fermented feeds at some point in their life cycle?

Even the term GRASS FED is used to make you think you are buying the real thing; you must ask to be sure.

GRASS FED is supposed to mean that the animal was free to range outside and ate fresh, nutrient rich pasture grasses and legumes all spring, summer and fall.  In the winter they are fed hay, which is preserved (sun dried) grasses and legumes.  They are not or have not been fed grains, immature grains, fermented grains, oat-ledge or corn or corn silage at any point.


Below is a photo of OUR GRASS FED BEEF, dry aging in the cooler at our butcher.  Notice the leanness, bright colour of the meat, the thin layer of fat, and the even distribution of fat.  Also the fat has gold tone.

Grass-fed external

Grass-fed beef, are a little smaller in size, and almost a year older when processing and leaner than conventional beef.   Grass fed Lamb are also bigger and older and grown completely different that barn raised lamb, made ready for the Easter Market.

More info about the environmental and health benefits of grass-fed meat can be found at a great website called,

We think Jo Robinson from best describes why grass farmers are a good bunch of folks who care about their animals and the land we farm. We think she clearly describes how passionate, new-age farmers produce grass-fed beef, or as she calls it, Ranch!

Here is a great excerpt from her book which describes the farm practices of the most dedicated grass farmers.

“These new-age ranchers do not treat their livestock with hormones or feed them growth-promoting additives. As a result, the animals grow at a natural pace. For these reasons and more, grass-fed animals live low-stress lives and are so healthy there is no reason to treat them with antibiotics or other drugs.

 Factory Farming

Raising animals on pasture is dramatically different from the status quo. Virtually all the meat, eggs, and dairy products that you find in the supermarket come from animals raised in confinement in large facilities called CAFOs or “Confined Animal Feeding Operations.” These highly mechanized operations provide a year-round supply of food at a reasonable price. Although the food is cheap and convenient, there is growing recognition that factory farming creates a host of problems, including:
• Animal stress and abuse
• Air, land, and water pollution
• The unnecessary use of hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs
• Low-paid, stressful farm work
• The loss of small family farms
• Food with less nutritional value.

Unnatural Diets

Animals raised in factory farms are given diets designed to boost their productivity and lower costs. The main ingredients are genetically modified grain and soy that are kept at artificially low prices by government subsidies. To further cut costs, the feed may also contain “by-product feedstuff” such as municipal garbage, stale pastry, chicken feathers, and candy. Until 1997, U.S. cattle were also being fed meat that had been trimmed from other cattle, in effect turning herbivores into carnivores. This unnatural practice is believed to be the underlying cause of BSE or “mad cow disease.” (Canada too!)

 Animal Stress

A high-grain diet can cause physical problems for ruminants—cud-chewing animals such as cattle, dairy cows, goats, bison, and sheep. Ruminants are designed to eat fibrous grasses, plants, and shrubs—not starchy, low-fiber grain. When they are switched from pasture to grain, they can become afflicted with a number of disorders, including a common but painful condition called “subacute acidosis.” Cattle with subacute acidosis kick at their bellies, go off their feed, and eat dirt. To prevent more serious and sometimes fatal reactions, the animals are given chemical additives along with a constant, low-level dose of antibiotics. Some of these antibiotics are the same ones used in human medicine. When medications are overused in the feedlots, bacteria become resistant to them. When people become infected with these new, disease-resistant bacteria, there are fewer medications available to treat them.

 The Art and Science of Grass Farming

Raising animals on pasture requires more knowledge and skill than sending them to a feedlot. For example, in order for grass-fed beef to be succulent and tender, the cattle need to forage on high-quality grasses and legumes, especially in the months prior to slaughter. Providing this nutritious and natural diet requires healthy soil and careful pasture management so that the plants are maintained at an optimal stage of growth. Because high-quality pasture is the key to high-quality animal products, many pasture-based ranchers refer to themselves as “grassfarmers” rather than “ranchers.” They raise great grass; the animals do all the rest.

 More Nutritious

A major benefit of raising animals on pasture is that their products are healthier for you. For example, compared with feedlot meat, meat from grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and goats has less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. It also has more vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a number of health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and “conjugated linoleic acid,” or CLA.

 The Healthiest Choice

When you choose to eat meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals raised on pasture, you are improving the welfare of the animals, helping to put an end to environmental degradation, helping small-scale ranchers and farmers make a living from the land, helping to sustain rural communities, and giving your family the healthiest possible food. It’s a win-win-win-win situation.” © 2010 by Jo Robinson,

Care about what’s on your fork, we do!

Cindy & Mike Wilhelm

Dragonfly Farm Store