Growing forage for grass-fed beef | Hay and Forage Magazine
We're often asked how we raise our grass fed beef. Our customers are interested in knowing if we buy our cattle, or if they are born and raised. The success of a grass-fed beef operation relies on getting average daily gains of at least 2 pounds per day. Animals will need to maintain a. The grass is finally growing again in vernal Wisconsin, but what has that to do with food? Plenty, if you like local, pasture-raised meat and dairy.
But no matter what your climate and soil, there are certain general hay-growing rules that hold true. First, a pasture that combines grass and legumes has many advantages over a single-crop field. Most legumes are nitrogen fixers and provide higher levels of protein, calcium, and magnesium than grasses do.
In addition, their longer root systems keep fields from rapidly becoming sodbound. They also speed up the drying process if you make hay. Finally, many animals prefer a mixed feed.
How We Raise Our Grass Fed Beef - Clover Meadows Beef
By the way, don't be too fanatical about cleaning out weeds. Eliminate any poisonous species, of course. Remember, too, that both cattle and land benefit by simple rotation grazing.
Any pasture crop can be safely eaten down to about two inches.
At that stage there's practically no leaf surface left, so you should move your cattle out. Then, if you watch, you'll notice a basic three stage pattern in the recovering field.
For the first few days three or four in a lush pasture, five or six in drier areas the grass will grow slowly. But—once some leaves are out—there'll be a burst of growth. During the second stage, the pounds of forage per acre can multiply as much as 10 times in 12 days. Finally, the pasture will reach maturity, the grasses will begin to crowd and dry out, and the nutritional value of the forage will drop. Unfortunately, separating your pastures with fences costs money.
One solution is to use a simple electric fence that can be moved up and down the field as needed. With such a "border", you can grow more beef on a given amount of land, and—should a good year come along—you can make your paddocks smaller and leave some extra hay for cutting. The value of that "bonus crop" alone could equal the cost of the fence!
If you buy your winter fodder, be sure to take a good look at its color. Old-timers usually poke into a bale or stack to pull out an occasional wisp, which they twist—or even chew on a little—to check it for freshness. Such experts aren't just fiddlin'. You may want to be tactful in doing so, but be sure to make that examination.
Raising Grass-Fed Beef
After all, you'll eat the cow that eats the hay. My husband simply takes along a jackknife and a piece of string, and if the seller won't let him open a bale, he doesn't buy! Winter Feeding and Management The customary yearly schedule for raising grass-fed beef goes like this: Wean the calves, as usual, at five to seven months.
Follow that with another summer of grass feed, a second winter on hay, and then a final summer on pasturage to fatten the cattle up and finish fleshing them out. Summer feeding is, of course, easy.
But winter feeding takes a little more planning. Calves and steers of different weights, older cows, and the young heifers that will provide your future breeding stock all need their own calibrated rations.
Certainly, in most parts of the country, cattle grow more slowly in the colder months So the rations I recommend are meant to produce a steady pound-a-day increase during the first winter, and around 0. Another important winter feeding consideration is that your animal must get a good supply of vitamin A. During the summer, dark green pasture contains carotene, which cattle can use to manufacture their own "A".
But winter feed, whether grass, grain, or hay, is often deficient in the valuable nutrient. Some protein mixes include vitamin A. Otherwise, your feed store will have supplements, probably in powder form. If you follow our methods, you should achieve the same good results that we and our neighbors get.
By two and a half years, slaughter weights for our small English breeds like Angus and Shorthorns are about 1, pounds, while the big exotics such as Charolais and Simmenthals can go as high as 1, to 1, and Herefords are about halfway between.
If the storage site is much colder, the whole tenderizing process will stop. If it's much hotter, though, the rot-causing bacteria will get to work.
For most people, the easiest place to age beef is in the local locker plant, and many such outfits will cooperate. Here are the facts you need to remember: A freshly hung carcass feels like a football filled with cold tallow: The surface is taut and the meat is solid. After 10 to 14 days, it starts to feel as though the tallow were just starting to warm up and get a little soft.
That's the point at which some small-scale butchers process beef, while a packing plant would have done so days before. The best beef restaurants, however, wait a little longer. Give the meat 18 days or even up to 21 for the big fellows until the change is complete. It will then be delivered to your door in the Winter of Like many cow-calf operations, we buy our bulls from someone that specializes in bulls.
Bulls have a very specific job and it comes around two times a year — when we let them in the field with the cows. One bull can breed about 25 cows. There are tons of interesting facts about bulls that we share herebut one of our favorites is that scientific studies have shown that the bull will follow a cow in heat for about miles. We could raise our own bulls on the farm after all, some of the calves born on are farm are malebut we choose not to. Therefore, if we want a calf that has leaner meat, we will let a leaner bull be in the field with those cows.
Our cows graze on our land throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall. During the Spring and Summer, we also cut some of this grass and make hay so that we can feed them grass i. One of the many things that makes cows such an amazing creature is that they have a ruminant stomach, which means it can get nutrients from plant-based food and there are 4 parts to their stomachs. Now, think about your dog and what happens if he eats grass. He would likely throw it up in a prominent spot of your kitchen floor, and when you clean it up you would see blades of grass in the mess.
Cows are one of the few animals God put on this earth to eat grass.
How We Raise Our Grass Fed Beef
Grass is an amazing substance, too. Depending on the soil and the time of year, grass is full of protein and other minerals that a cow needs. However, the quality of grass can change. For example, in years that there is less rain, the quality of the grass goes down.
Why we do it As you can see, raising quality cows and calves is a lot of hard work. It is not something you can just jump into. It takes years of blood, sweat and tears to get it right. In addition to that self-determination, you have to have good land and grass that can support the cows, years of experience, and a willingness to live with uncertainty year-round.