Why Grass-Finished?

What does Grass-fed, Grass-finished, Organic and All-Natural mean?

At Oxbow we are all-natural and grass-finished.  What does this mean?  It means our cows spend their entire lives on pasture, living the best life a cow could have.  It means we do not give them growth hormones.  It means we do not feed or give them sub therapeutic antibiotics (antibiotics are usually fed to feed lot cows because the conditions promote disease and infections).  Our cows never eat a grain, they graze diverse pastures of grasses, legumes and forbs and are fed high-quality hay throughout the winter months.  We do not chemically worm or “pour on” our cows, we provide them with the best diet and health we can so that they can fight off any parasites.  We manage are soil and land to our best ability.  We believe that healthy land gives us healthy cows!

The definitions:

Grass-fed:  A beef cow that is fed grass.  Nearly every cow starts their life as grass-fed.  In other words, calves spend their first 6-8 months with their moms out on pastures eating grass and drinking milk.  Somewhere shortly thereafter the calves are weaned from their moms and start their journey through the commodity beef world, meaning they get on a truck and head to a feed lot, where they are finished for beef on grains.  These animals are grass-fed and grain finished.

Grass-finished:  A beef cow that is grass-fed and grass-finished.  In other words, these cows that live this life never leave the pasture.  They start off on grass and milk, get weaned from the milk and continue to live their life out eating grass or hay in pastures.  An exception is, some feedlots are beginning to feed cows just hay, so they can take advantage of the grass-fed and grass-finished markets.  These animals still finish their lives within the confinements of feedlots, but being fed only harvested grass in the form of hay.

Organic:  A beef cow that has met the requirements of the USDA organic standards.  Organic beef can be feedlot beef fed corn and molasses, the grains and sugars just have to be certified organic.  You can also have grass-finished, organic beef too.

All-Natural:  There is no definition in general for this.  Terms like no antibiotics or no growth hormones usually fall into all-natural.  Some all-natural producers use “pour on”  or wormers?  We DO NOT at Oxbow.  What is pour on?  It is a pesticide that you pour down the back of a cow that is absorbed through their skin that kills internal and external parasites and kills beneficial soil microbes during that process.  We also feel that we do not want to be eating a cow that has had chemicals absorbed throughout its body.  You may ask how do we help our cows fight internal and external parasites.  We have our cows on a very detailed free-choice mineral program, manage our grazing intensively and provide our animals with apple cider vinegar (ACV).  ACV has tons of health benefits for humans, well guess what it also has tons of health benefits for cows!

 

 

Grain-Finished:

  1. Grain-finished beef is less healthy for you.
    • See the Top Ten Health Reasons to Eat Grassfed beef above.
  2. Grain-finished cows are unhealthier.
    • Grains, which are simple carbohydrates, are not intended for a cow’s diet. Grains change the natural bacteria and digestive process in the intestines, making them prone to acidosis.
    • Cows are confined in a feedlot in very tight quarters and this promotes infections, resulting in the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics.
  3. Grain-finished beef are not as good for the environment.
    • Feed for grain-finished cows has to be planted, harvested and shipped using large quantities of fossil fuels.
    • Many grain and vegetable crops require from 5 to 10 calories of fossil-fuel for every calorie of food or fiber produced.
    • Growing corn and soy causes six times more soil erosion than pasture.

Grass-Finished:

  1. Grass-finished cows produce healthier beef.
    • It has been scientifically proven that grass-finished beef is healthier than grain-finished beef.
  2. Grass-finished cows are healthier.
    • Our cows spend their entire lives on open pasture living in the environment nature intended for them.
    • They forage on complex carbohydrates which their digestive system is developed for.
    • Nothing about the grass-finishing process is accelerated – it happens in due time.
  3. Grass-finished cows are better for the environment.
    • A diet of grazed grass requires much less fossil fuel than a feedlot diet of dried corn and soy.
    • Beef from grass-finished cows requires only one calorie of fossil fuel to produce two calories of food. 
    • On pasture, grazing cows do their own fertilizing and harvesting.
    • Grazed pasture removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere more effectively than any land use, including forestland and ungrazed prairie, helping to slow global warming.
  4. For more information on the research behind these benefits see the Eat Wild website.

 

 

Top 10 Health Reasons to Eat Grassfed Beef:

To learn more, click on any of the links below:

  1. 1Lower in total fatMore Info
    Lower in total fatCows were designed to eat grass, which means that they process it and maintain a healthy digestive system. Feedlot cattle are finished with a grain diet, mainly corn and soy, which makes for a quick weight gain and a higher percentage of fat in the tissue.

    Grainfed cattle also receive hormones in the diet, again to make them grow fast and gain weight quickly. This also results in a higher fat content in the muscle. Pasture-raised cattle are not given artificial hormones and so are naturally more lean than their feedlot counterparts. According to the Duckett study, the overall total fat content of pasture-raised cattle is usually about 25% lower than grainfed cattle.

    Since grassfed meat is lean, it is also lower in calories than grainfed.
  2. 2Higher in beta-caroteneMore Info
    Higher in beta-caroteneAccording to a California State University study, meat from pasture-fed steers contains a seven-fold higher concentration of beta-carotene than grain-fed animals. This is probably a result of the high beta-carotene content of fresh grasses as compared to cereal grains.

    Beta-carotenes are precursors of retinol (Vitamin A), a critical fat-soluble vitamin that is important for normal vision, bone growth, reproduction, and cell division. The overall integrity of skin and mucous membranes is maintained by vitamin A, creating a barrier to bacterial and viral infection. In addition, vitamin A is involved in the regulation of immune function by supporting the production and function of white blood cells.
  3. 3Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)More Info
    Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)The meat from the grassfed cattle is four times higher in vitamin E than meat from feedlot cattle and almost twice as high as meat from feedlot cattle that have been given vitamin E supplements.

    In humans, vitamin E is linked with a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. This potent antioxidant may also have anti-aging properties. Most Americans are deficient in vitamin E.
  4. 4Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavinMore Info
    Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavinThiamine, also known as Vitamin B1, helps to maintain the body’s energy supplies, coordinates the activity of nerves and muscles and supports proper heart function. Riboflavin, Vitamin B2, helps protect cells from oxygen damage, supports cellular energy production and helps to maintain the body’s supply of other B vitamins.
  5. 5Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium and potassiumMore Info
    Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium and potassiumCalcium helps maintain healthy, strong bones; supports the proper functioning of nerves and muscles and helps blood to clot. Magnesium helps to relax nerves and muscles, builds and strengthens bones and keeps the blood circulating smoothly. Potassium helps to maintain the proper electrolyte and acid-base balance in the body and helps lower the risk for high blood pressure.
  6. 6Higher in total Omega-3sMore Info
    Higher in total Omega-3sOmega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that play an important part in growth and metabolism. They can't be synthesized by the human body, so they have to come from our diet. Omega 3s reduce inflammation, lower the amount of serum cholesterol and triglycerides, prevent excess clotting and reduce the risk of cancer.
  7. 7Better ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)More Info
    Better ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)While both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are important individually, they also work in tandem and the ratio is critical. According to a 2008 study, a typical Western diet can be excessively heavy on the Omega 6s – up to a 30:1 ratio – when the ideal is closer to 1:1. While the body requires some Omega 6, an excess can foster cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autoimmune disorders, which are suppressed by Omega 3s. The proper ratio can reduce the risk of those and other chronic illnesses.
  8. 8Higher in conjugated linoleic acidMore Info
    Higher in conjugated linoleic acidCLA is another potent weapon in the arsenal against chronic disease. CLA can reduce cancer, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and insulin resistance.
  9. 9Higher in vaccenic acidMore Info
    Higher in vaccenic acidVaccenic acid is a transfat that occurs naturally in ruminant animals, but unlike its synthetically-produced cousins, is important for good health. A recent study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that vaccenic acid protects against atherosclerosis, a contributing factor in cardiovascular disease.
  10. 10Lower in saturated fats linked with heart diseaseMore Info
    Lower in saturated fats linked with heart diseaseSaturated fats (cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins – LDL or "bad" cholesterol) all play a significant role in heart disease and stroke.

American Grassfed Association

 

 

ox · bow
/ 'äks,bō /
An abandoned channel in the course of a river, shaped like a U. We graze our cows on the ancient "oxbows" of the Bitterroot River, where these sub-irrigated fertile remnants of the Bitterroot provide lush feed for grass-finishing cattle.