Grass-Fed Confused? Let Us Help.
Labels on grass-fed beef products are confusing. We’ll try to help by explaining what we know.
There are different levels of grass-fed beef being marketed to consumers. We believe most are compromised, or even misleading, in some way. We also believe when you, the consumer, envision grass fed beef you see cattle in open pastures only grazing forages and grass. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
Why “Grass Fed” Needs More.
All cattle begin their lives on grass, some may even spend all but 90 days foraging. Then they are confined in a feedlot and fed grain byproducts and sometimes, grain! However, the difference in the quality of the product and the environmental footprint boils down to how the cattle are managed for their entire lifetime.
Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed prides ourselves on the fact that we do not allow confinement feeding, grain by-products or GMO plants. Our cattle are always on the land, managed holistically, and all while regenerating soil and grasslands.
Level 1: Not Grass Fed Beef
Conventional grain-fed but may state pasture-raised or some other generic, not verified, statement on the label.
All cattle begin their lives on grass and spend 6-9 months on grass with their momma cow. So even conventional grain-fed cattle can claim to be pasture-raised. Eventually, these cattle end up in a confinement feedlot for their final 3-9 months, consuming mostly a mixture of grain, antibiotics while injected with growth hormones and beta-agonists.
Level 2: Grass Fed Beef; Still Includes Confined Feeding, Maybe Include Grain In The Diet
Take the grain out of Level 1 and sometimes the antibiotics and hormones and you now have the lowest level of grass-fed beef. This level allows grain by-products (the hulls of GMO corn and soybeans) because the USDA technically defines these grain byproducts as forage and thus allows the Grass Fed Beef label to be used. This level without the use of the prefix of 100% in front of Grass Fed may still have periods of finishing on grain. For example, it could be 70% Grass Fed and 30% Grain Fed for the animal’s life.
Level 3: 100% Grass Fed; Still Includes Confinement Feeding, Grain Byproducts Allowed
This level does not allow antibiotics, artificial hormones or grain. Still does allow the feeding of grain byproducts (GMO corn and soybean hulls) in confinement feeding.
Level 4: Lifetime Grazed® 100% Grass Fed Beef
This is where Thousand Hills resides. We needed an adjective communicating we DO NOT allow confinement feeding, DO NOT allow grain byproducts or any GMO plants. We felt Lifetime Grazed was the easiest, best way to communicate this quickly on our label. Our cattle are always on the land, managed holistically, regenerating soil and grasslands. In our view, you can only claim to be regenerative if you:
1) are not allowing in any conventional ag/GMO components into your forage supply
2) the cattle are ALWAYS on the land, grazing forages for their lifetime.
“All the benefits of grass-fed beef are ONLY gained when the cattle are holistically grazed for their lifetime.”
—Matt Maier, Chief Renegade