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 cattle 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 grassfed cattle vs. grainfed cattle compare at the end of their lifecycle.
Cattle raised in a grassfed environment eat their natural diet of grasses. In comparison, grainfed cattle 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 grassfed cattle is said to not only be better for consumers to eat and a more pleasant life for the cattle but a cattle’s grassfed diet in 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 grassfed cattle are not exposed to any drugs, especially antibiotics or hormones. This means that cattle grown in a grassfed environment ultimately live a clean life. Grainfed cattle 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 important activity in the life of any animal, regardless of the environment they are in. Exercise builds natural muscle and creates a lean body. For grassfed cattle, they roam open pasture when they feed. This allows them to get the exercise that’s necessary for a healthy lifestyle and growth. Unfortunately, grainfed cattle are restricted in confined feedlots in order to minimize movement which allows cattle 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 grassfed 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. Grainfed cattle, on the other hand, have four times more fat per three ounce serving and these grainfed meats don’t even compare with the vitamins and minerals found in grassfed beef.
In conclusion, it appears that not only is the life of a grassfed cattle much better and pleasant for the cattle but in the end, the meat the cattle produces 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 less 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.
Jessica McNeal is a freelance writer and self-proclaimed animal lover. When she’s not spending time writing, she can be found working on her family’s farm, helping keep track of the cattle by marking them with identification cow tags and helping take care of the chicken coop.