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Hello everyone and welcome to winter! If your place is anything like “Old Bombine” you too would also have the jumpers, coats, ugg-boots and porridge out. Nothing too major to whinge about though. While the mornings have been chilly, the days have been turning into lovely, sunny, warm affairs.
Now, this months newsletter is going to be around a question I (Bonnie) was asked by one of our dedicated customers on our latest delivery. Thank you for asking me… it made me think! They asked me what was the difference between grain fed and grass fed beef and which one is better. A very valid and interesting question.
Like I said to the our wonderful customer at that time, the question of “which is better” is very much a personal choice. All I can do is explain the difference between them and the reasons behind why we produce “grain fed” beef.
When we talk about whether the product is grain or grass fed and sell it as such, we are only really considering the last 80- 100(ish) days of the animal’s life. All cattle in Australia are born in a grass paddock and are raised there with their mothers until weaning time. Weaning takes place when a calf is about 6 months of age, although it can vary depending on factors like the season and the availability of feed for both cows and calves. During weaning, calves are kept in and around the cattle yards for a week or two and are fed hay and pellets. or in our case, a high roughage feedlot ration. This feeding regimen aims to ensure a rising plane of nutrition for the weaners as they transition from a milk-based diet and also teaches them to eat independently, separate from their mothers. 
Weaners are then put out to “background”. This means they are put out onto either grass paddocks or forage crops like oats or forage sorghum to grow and gain weight. At this point cattle are continuing their free-range life, and are still yet to determine what they will be called once on your plate. It is during this time in their life that their “on-your-plate-name” is chosen. If the cattle are to be sold as grass fed later in their life they will remain in a paddock with grass or crop, sometimes also receiving a small amount of supplement feed on the side. If however, if they are to become grain fed beef, the “backgrounders” that have reached feedlot weight will then be sold to or inducted into a feedlot.
Once in the feedlot, cattle are fed a high energy ration that results in an increase in both meat and fat for the next 100 days (on average).
So… that is the difference between the two categories.
Now, let me tell you some of the reasons why we and other feedlotters choose to produce a grain-fed or grain-finished product:
  • Weather: Living and farming where we do means that our annual rainfall is variable. We have great years and we have very hard years. During great years we definitely could fatten cattle enough on the grass to produce great meat. However, years that are fantastic are few and far between. By finishing cattle in a feedlot environment we are able to produce well finished cattle all the time every time, regardless of whether is has or has not rained.
  • Consistency: By feeding grain in a highly scientific based ration to our cattle, we are able to ensure that the beef we produce tastes the same every time. It greatly reduces the risk of getting a “rough” steak!
  • Flavour: A grain fed diet results in fat. That is both fat on the outside of the meat (which has to be cut of when butchering) and fat that is intramuscular. This intramuscular fat is called marbling and results in flavoursome and juicy beef whether that be in the form of a sausage or a rib-fillet steak. This is why when you cook your four daughters mince for tacos or spag-bol you have a bit of fat come out of it… it is also what makes is so delishhhhh.
  • Sustainability: We are able to produce more beef more quickly. I’m sure you have all heard about the concern around the gasses produced by cattle… cow burp… methane. If we can breed, grow and then feed  and fatten cattle  ready for slaughter sooner, this reduces the amount of time they are walking around, producing and releasing methane into the atmosphere.
  • Amount of land space: As a quick example, our main feedlot is on “Old Bombine”. “Old Bombine” is a 4000 acre property, and through the feedlot we are able to consistently produce roughly 6000 “finished” ready-to-slaughter animals every year. If we did not have the feedlot on “Old Bombine” we may be able to produce about 300-400 ready-to-slaughter animals in a good rainfall year.  This would be less than a tenth of our total production. Yes, we have alot of costs but is does also mean an increase in income provided by a small sized property, that otherwise would not be attainable. The feedlot system for us creates employment for our family and others. 
That is the difference between grass fed and grain fed beef. All cattle are  born on grass, raised on grass and it is the fattening or finishing of these cattle that defines the difference.

All beef is a the best source of protein and how cool is it that cattle can eat grass and other fodder crops that humans cannot and turn this into a protein source that we need.  

If you have made it to the end of this newsletter, I thank you, and hope you have learned something. At the end of the day though, whether you choose to eat grass fed or grain fed beef is entirely up to you. Personally, I prefer grain fed, for all the reasons outlined above, but also because I love the flavour, probably because that’s what I have eaten all my life and it’s my “normal”.
So… in light of this information, if you are one of the people out there who loves the flavour of grain-fed beef, how it was produced and what it means, order your Pink Box or Mini Pink for our July delivery at the link below!

 CLICK HERE to order yours now!

Remember, once you order your box, you will unlock access to all the other exciting and delicious cuts like cube rolls (rib fillets), short ribs and briskets.

Don't forget that we also sell a 10kg bulk sausage box of 10x1kg packs, perfect for parties, picnics or just snag lovers! Also great for feeding boys who just "eat for fuel".

The Penfold Family 🐮
Dan, Kar, Bonnie, Molly, Jemima and Matilda

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