What's the Difference between Grass Fed and Grain Fed Beef?
Make no misteaks about grain fed and grass fed beef. We discuss the differences.
Australian beef farmers are custodians of almost half of the continent and this great Southern land encapsulates a range of climatic, topographical and geological environments. As such, and to ensure the consistent supply of beef there are two main farming methods in Australia – grass fed and grain fed.
GRASS FED (OR PASTURE FED) BEEF
In Australia, the majority of beef is raised on pasture and this meat is usually described as ‘grass fed’ or ‘pasture fed’. The breed type, as well as changes in seasons and nutritional value of the pasture, can influence the style and quality of beef produced on grass.
All Australian cattle spend the majority of their lives in a pasture fed environment. For an animal to be classified as grass fed it means that they have spent their entire life grazing pastures. Grass fed beef is often said to have a complex, robust flavour and yellowish fat colour.
GRAIN FED BEEF
Grain fed beef comes from cattle that have spent part of their lives being fed a ration of grain in order to achieve a more consistent product. On average, cattle that are grain fed spend between 50 and 120 days on grain after having spent 85-90% of their lives in a grass fed environment.
A cattle feedlot is a managed facility where grain fed livestock are provided a balanced and nutritious diet for the purpose of producing beef of a consistent quality. In a feedlot, cattle are placed in a yard of up to 6,000m2 in size (i.e. around the size of 14 basketball courts), which is enough space for all cattle to exhibit natural behaviour in terms of movement and interaction.
Cattle are generally taken to feedlots to allow them to grow in an environmentally sustainable manner. Notably, cattle require increasing nutrition as they get older and this places greater pressure on pastures and hence the environment. A feedlot takes pressure off paddock environments.
Some breeds of cattle, such as wagyu, are fed grain in order to enhance marbling. Grain fed beef tends to have more marbling than grass fed beef, resulting in a more buttery flavour, and the fat is pure white. Find out more about marbling here.
Visit us to buy grass fed or grain fed beef and see our selection of beef here.