Whether you want to believe it or not, there are a lot of stories and reports out there about the treatment of cattle on high producing farms. Rather than picking apart the ways the cows are treated, this article takes a look at how the different processes which farmers take can significantly impact the quality and nutrients in the meat that is produced.
This article looks at three critical items: diet, drugs, and exercise, and compares how grass-fed cattle vs. grain-fed cattle compare at the end of their lifecycle.
Cattle raised in a grass-fed environment eat their natural diet of grasses. In comparison, grain-fed cows eat 90% corn and 10% other, including forage and cheap high-energy feeds like candy, starch, bakery waste, potato waste, pasta, chicken litter, and meat processing waste. The diet of grass-fed cattle is said to not only be better for consumers to eat and a more pleasant life for the animals, but a cattle’s grass-fed food is beneficial to the planet as well since less energy is required when growing grass as opposed to grain.
The drugs that are injected into cattle now are no big secret. What’s interesting is that grass-fed animals are not exposed to any drugs, especially antibiotics or hormones. This means that animals are grown in a grass-fed environment, ultimately live a clean life. Grain-fed cows, on the other hand, are given various antibiotics for illnesses and growth promotion. They are also injected with growth hormones to increase growth rate by 10-15%
Exercise is an essential activity in the life of any animal, regardless of the environment they are in. Training builds natural muscle and creates a lean body. For grass-fed cattle, they roam open pasture when they feed. This allows them to get the activity that’s necessary for a healthy lifestyle and growth. Unfortunately, grain-fed cattle are restricted in confined feedlots to minimize movement, which allows cows to fatten up quicker. This results in a faster growth rate and quicker production, with more cash flow circulating through these mass-production farms.
Research has proven that the meat composition of grass-fed cows is significantly healthier when analyzed for fat and nutrient content. Grassfed cows have two to four times more Omega 3, five times more CLA, up to seven times the beta-carotene, more vitamins, and more minerals. Grain-fed cattle, on the other hand, have four times more fat per three-ounce serving, and these grain-fed meats don’t even compare with the vitamins and minerals found in grass-fed beef.
In conclusion, it appears that not only is the life of a grass-fed cattle much better and pleasant for the cows, but in the end, the meat the animals produce is much healthier for the general public to consume. While the mass-produced meat is still less expensive at the grocery stores, it’s made with high-fat content and fewer health benefits. When it comes down to it, the question is whether or not it’s more important to the consumer to enjoy a piece of meat that might cost a little more but is much healthier and naturally more delicious compared to buying a cheaper piece of meat that’s full of hormones, antibiotics, and fat. You decide.