The first of our steers has headed off to the butcher. These cattle are almost wholly grass fed over the course of their life. These ones were purchased from other studs, and weren't born on Aloncaws. For that reason, we can't say that they have been entirely grass fed - just because we don't know what they ate before they came to us.
That said, they have had free access to grass, and been hand fed hay regularly. Beyond that, they have had some seaweed mineral lick blocks (think vitamins for cows!). They have been on grass for all of their life, and have had a happy life.
Cattle in feedlots are predominantly fed grain in situations where cows are not usually on grass, they generally have less space and generally their manure has to be removed and spread elsewhere - a situation that does little to reflect that cattle are a ruminant - that is, they eat grass, and that their manure is a soil fertiliser - and in their natural environment, not a toxic by-product.
The miracle of cattle is that they can take grass, that is inedible to humans, and turn it into food and fertiliser - nourishing the very soil that grows the grass that they eat, and providing food to us. The recent miracle of making burger patties from plants? So what? Cows have been doing that forever!!
We've had people tell us that the land could be better used to grow many more vegetables to feed more people than the meat we grow. But that is usually said by people who haven't seen our land, and have never grown a food plant in their life. Truthfully, much like much of the land used for grazing around the world, there is simply no way that large portions of our property could grow food plants. The land is too steep to do so safely in places, it is too steep to do so without causing major problems with erosion in others. The soil is the wrong soil type for many types of vegetable or grain operations, and irrigation would be required and would likely upset a variety of existing ecosystems.
Finishing cattle on grass to a reasonable standard is hard work - particularly in a drought. But we did manage it, and we have proved it's possible. We've learnt a few things along the way, but are looking forward to the next round of beef orders. Email us at email@example.com if you are interested in ordering beef from us the next time round.
So, this blog is just an update of what we are up to on the farm - nothin' fancy...