Author Topic: Beyond Grass fed  (Read 10428 times)

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Offline sabertooth

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Beyond Grass fed
« on: June 22, 2016, 01:28:35 pm »
After seeking out Paleo quality sources of the finest pasture meats available, searching far and wide for the best tasting animals, over a number of years, I think its past time to write down some of my thoughts ideas, so as to encourage others to think "Beyond Grass Fed" when seeking out Paleo quality meats.

After sampling Grass Fed Labeled Beef from local markets, as well as travailing abroad to Europe and other areas across America, I am very disappointed in the taste of much of what is being sold at the average market place. I believe that there are a good number of reasons for this, (other than the fact that I am as Finicky as a feline). Its been obvious to me for some time, how typical grass fed operations are being run does not make for the kind of qualities I have been seeking. Ive seen the limited fenced in pastures, which have been striped of all wild vegetation and contain primarily only a few grass varieties... the hay which is supplemented is often even more limited in its variety of wild forage. Then there are many other absurd practices of vaccinations, chemical worming, castrating, and butchering before optimal maturity, which makes the Grass Fed Label nearly worthless to Me.

These observations of how beef is typically raised and the poor taste it often has, lead me to prefer pasture raised Mutton from small family farms. This has worked fairly well the last few years, especially because it allows me to harvest all the organs as well as being able to inspect the animal carefully...... though Lately I have exhausted my best sources and have not been very pleased with the last few I have received from elsewhere. Many places that raise sheep also have limited access to ideal forage, so the taste and quality can suffer as a result.

Many Ideals have come to mind in regard to how our pasture lands no longer contain the dynamic and synergistic balance of wild forage, which is necessary for the grazing animals to become fully and optimally adapted to and integrated into the local ecology. Much of these realizations remained in the back of my mind and are ruminated upon every time I have to chew on a Bad tasting piece of meat.

Recently after a chance encounter with a Rancher at a farmers market in Tucson Arizona, my faith in domestically raised beef has been restored, and many of my theories have been affirmed.( Back Story) After spending a few days in Santa Fe with the Girlfriends family, and having to suffer through some very mediocre Grass Fed Beef from the local chain markets, hiking many miles, I was ravenous for something good. A Friend in Tucson took us all to the local farmers market. I soon found a booth where there were plenty of beef marrow bones for cheap and I bought a bunch, but the cuts where 18 dollars a pound so i decided to go to the car and taste the bones before buying any cuts. OMG!! after a couple of weeks being low on quality fat, those marrow bones where a gift from the divine! I went back and told the man that those bones where very good, and I would like to buy some of the fattest cuts. He looked at me and asked how did you eat them, knowing that I couldn't possible had cooked them, so I told him about being a Raw Paleo and about all the particular requirements of the diet.

He then told me about how his Cows where the closest thing to wild Beef there is. They are not even vaccinated.... they have full access to wild desert forage, these are not 'grass fed' they are "FORAGE FED" animals, eating mostly wild brush that includes jojoba( which is suppose to have some magical properties). If anything these animals by eating naturally occurring forage become well adapted to the desert environment. The animal that I bought was was a ten year old cow with flesh so tender rich and mild that I could hardly believe it was beef. Foraging livestock need time to mature. The CLA, trace minerals, phytonutrients nutrients, and fat soluble proto-vitamins, build up as the animal matures..... at the typical age of two years beef cattle are too young to be considered Prime( by Primal standards)

He only butchers an animal a few weeks after the rains came in and make everything lush.... around the time of hearing this, a light bulb when off in my head, and I could picture these cattle after the rains freely moo-ving from shrub to shrub, and brute to brush nibbling the lush new shoots as they pleased, in accord with their taste, before moving on to wherever their instinct directed. These Brutes , by being given the opportunity to seek their own forage, and the freedom to eat whatever their instincts direct them to, are able to incorporate the tastiest and most nutrition parts of their environment into their flesh, and these attributes and qualities pass directly to the whom consumes that flesh.

By direct contrast confined animals who are shovel fed grass, get no choice, no freedom to forage for the best that nature has to offer, and much less opertunity to lightly graze off of the lush new growth while leaving the bitter old stalks. In effect, the bad taste of a lot of the Grass Fed Labeled Beef comes from the limited freedom of range animals to intensively graze upon wild and pristine forage land...instead they are given a few varieties of odd grass and forced to chew on cud of bitter stalks.

After leaving the market and biting into one of the chuck eye cuts that night, I became convinced about the superiority of the Jojoba Beef. It seemed to have a taste, texture and mineral composition that was very agreeable. I called up the Rancher and arranged to order 30 pounds to take back with me to Kentucky. There where fatty rib cuts, and chuck eye, liver and sweet breads. The liver was the real testament, I have never had a beef liver taste so pure and delicious. I tried to convince the Rancher that there would be a huge market online for that kind of quality, but he just pointed to his sign which had "Local" written on it, and said that selling local was the only way. After realizing how knowledgeable I was and how much in agreement our philosophy's were, he did offer me a Job, and if it were not for my 4 children, I would be there now learning how to Ranch, Rope and Ride....it is 8 miles through wilderness, on a mustang just to round up an animal when its time to bring it to butcher. Though as unrealistic it is for me to become a cowboy out west, I still might try to go out and apprentice for a month after the rainy season, and work enough to earn a truck full of cow parts to take back home.

Thats it for tonight, To be continued......Until then anyone else feel free to weigh in on the topic of Going Beyond Grass fed.   

« Last Edit: June 22, 2016, 01:42:44 pm by sabertooth »
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Offline TylerDurden

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2016, 03:23:23 pm »
Wonderful! I am always glad when other  RVAFers do not have to compromise as regards the quality of their diet. I do not know about US laws but in the EU one is forced by law to slaughter all cattle once they reach 30 months of age. Since the meat becomes tastier with age as grassfed animals take longer to build up decent fat-layers etc.,  this is absolutely criminal.The insane hysteria over the BSE crisis gave  the EU an excuse  to crush British etc. farming. The result is that at UK farmers' markets I found it extremely difficult to get hold of raw grassfed-derived organ-meats as they were forced to pay 2 food-inspectors(1 EU-appointed and 1 UK-appointed), and would have had to spend a lot more to sell the raw organs as well. Fortunately, I could eventually get hold of raw wild hare carcasses plus organs and blood so I did better than expected.

One thing I noticed was the introduction by some UK farms of "salt-marsh-fed" lamb. Also, the raw grassfed lamb, even if not the salt-marsh-fed variety,  always tasted way better than the raw grassfed beef, with few exceptions. I could even eat the white fat of the grasfed leg of lamb with delight whereas the raw white fat on grassfed beef was not to my taste.

Here in Austria, access to raw wild game on the cheap is easily possible, but only the muscle-meats not the organ-meats.

Makes sense that your farmer chose to only sell local. Some of the UK farms I ordered from online also chose to only sell locally.
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Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2016, 06:12:36 pm »
Great story! I'd like to eat some of the wild boar that live around here, but they a are too smart to be easily killed like the deer.

Offline RogueFarmer

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2016, 02:28:11 pm »
The butcher I hired to slaughter my lambs who had been a butcher in farm country slaughtering animals his whole life told me my lamb was the best he ever saw in his life. Icelandic lamb may be the best quality lamb in the world. They were originally brought to Iceland by vikings 1100 years ago and have remained pure ever since, they are the direct descendants of the original Northern European Mountain Sheep. They eat all kinds of vegetation, more diverse and thorough in consumption than even a goat, if the right variety of perennial and in some regions annual grasses they are more fit than most livestock to live year round on pasture and wilderness. It is said they can live through what would kill another sheep breed and they have a higher requirement for copper than other sheep when it is said that copper is poisonous to sheep.

I have been studying how to grow the most nutrient dense food for the past 9 years. I have been eating organic produce all of those years and it is very clear to me there is an insane amount of factors in quality.

Most of the pasture in this country is entirely dominated by invasive species. Many of which are not ideally nutritious and in some cases toxic. Tall Fescue in much of the midwest is the predominant pasture grass and causes toxicity if consumed in too large of quantities when the plant is stressed. It has low palatability but high drought tolerance so survives when other grasses whither in dry hot summers when fescue's toxic symbiotic fungus thrives and attempts to prevent livestock from consuming the plant.

The solution? Two different ways to skin a cat as far as I see. You could throw a lot of money at the problem or you could implement high labor pasture management methods and you need to do the later to produce the highest quality product possible.

Growing a crop requires capital as does planting a pasture, usually the best option is to pick whatever animal best eats whatever food is already growing on your farm.

Pasture management is crucial, some farms rotate their cattle to fresh pasture, not just every day, or twice a day, but every hour that the sun shines all summer long!

Much of the soil is depleted of minerals, chiefly carbon and usually there is an imbalance of Calcium and Magnesium in the soil, causing other minerals to be bound and unavailable.

Livestock managed correctly are tools for bringing soil back into balance. Healthy pastures must be allowed to mature to produce carbon to feed the soil where livestock are managed. Mature forages allow livestock to select a balanced diet by allowing them to control how much of forage they eat. On pasture, ruminant livestock are limited not by protein but by carbohydrates, plants accumulate sugar on their leaves and the greater amount of protein is near the ground, so allowing plants to grow to maturity allows animals to select their own protein and sugar intake. Plants at maturity also have much more carbon so help much more to build soil than plants grazed short and tender.

Livestock are also friends and raising different livestock together improves their ability to utilize pasture and actually causes them to grow faster! Different species of grazing animals work symbiotically together to maintain pastures in nature and on the farm.

My ideal has always been to raise animals as closely to nature as possible.

Offline Inger

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2016, 05:53:20 pm »
Great stuff....... I would have loved to taste that beef, Sabertooth! Why am I not there ;)

The issue with good quality animal meat disappears when eating out of the ocean.... I am so lucky to be able to pick and eat as many wild oysters as I like where I live. We do have those "salt-marsh-fed" lambs here too Tyler, but you get them only in season.... they taste awesome......

Offline Eric

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2016, 08:31:55 pm »
Great post Derek. I have a few thoughts to add:

First, in the United States the label "Grass Fed" does not mean all that much. A label that says only "Grass Fed" just means that at some point in the animal's life it was fed grass, which can include hay. A label of "Grass Fed" doesn't necessarily mean that an animal ever actually ate fresh grass (or fresh forage more generally) at any time in its life. I think this is one reason for why the taste and texture of "Grass Fed" meat can vary so much.

"Grass Fed" meats in the US can also be finished on grain for the last months of their lives to fatten them up to slaughter weight faster without having to acknowledge this on the label. If you want an animal that has never been fed grain, you need to look for a label that says "100 % Grass Fed" or something similar. Even this label doesn't guarantee that the animal ever ate fresh forage, just that it was never fed grain. A confined feedlot could earn the "100 % Grass Fed" label by raising cattle in a barn and feeding them hay. There are other more stringent labels that pertain to the diets of marketed ruminants such as those by the American Grassfed Association and the Food Alliance, among others, but there's no requirement that a seller meet the standards of these third-party labels in order to use the term "Grass Fed" in their marketing.

Having worked with a number of grass farmers in the Northeast US I have pretty much decided that it's nearly impossible to find high quality meat available on commercial markets. The economics of grass farming don't work very well. To make money grass farming a farmer must rely on forages with high protein or sugar content to force animals to grow fast enough to send them to slaughter in a reasonable amount of time. Any diet that forces an animal to grow fast isn't really all that good for its nutritional value. The best beef I've eaten comes from hobby farmers who raise for taste and texture specifically and can afford to give a half-dozen cattle 50 acres to roam around on. These are generally wealthy people who care about the food they eat and not about turning a profit on it.

I don't hardly buy beef anymore in the US Northeast as our landscape just doesn't work for them. Grass farmers in this part of the country literally have to force the land to be pasture, as it so desperately wants to grow back into forest and start the long process of healing itself from years of overgrazing by dairy farmers and from the tillage practices used by vegetable farmers. I do sometimes buy Icelandic sheep as they seem to be better adapted to the landscape from an ecological standpoint, and I'd also buy goat if I could find someone who didn't heavily supplement their goats diet with cheap grain.
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Offline ys

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2016, 09:54:44 pm »
How do you supervise what your kids are eating?  I find it very hard with mine esp when most of the day is spent at school.  Gets very picky.  The most I can do is very rare steak and rarely raw ground meat.

Offline dariorpl

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2016, 04:41:38 am »
How do you supervise what your kids are eating?

For a second I was unsure if you were talking about children or goats ;)
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Offline dariorpl

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2016, 04:51:39 am »
Fascinating posts, sabertooth, RogueFarmer and Eric.

I wonder what you guys think about rotating herds in the way Joe Salatin suggests, which is to allow the grasses to spend the most time growing at their maximum growth rate, which seems to be somewhere around the middle of the growth cycle, as when the grass blades are too short, they grow slowly as they can't capture much sunlight, and when they're long, they spend more energy flowering and developing seeds and so stop growing as much. But maybe those later stage processes are useful to feed your herds some more protein.
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Offline dariorpl

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2016, 04:59:08 am »
The issue with good quality animal meat disappears when eating out of the ocean.... I am so lucky to be able to pick and eat as many wild oysters as I like where I live. We do have those "salt-marsh-fed" lambs here too Tyler, but you get them only in season.... they taste awesome......

I'm not much of a fan of ocean foods. Oysters are great when they are good quality, but those are hard to find and are very expensive to buy in quantities large enough to represent a substantial part of your diet. Most of the time I end up paying lots of money for low quality oysters. Squids are another of my favourites (well the tentacles and head mostly, the rest of the body isn't very tasty), and they're cheap, but very hard to find fresh, it's almost always frozen. As for regular ocean fish, I find them too lean and light to be my main meats. I do eat fish every now and then, but it's not an everyday staple for me. On most days I'd much rather have grain finished beef with all of it's toxins than have lean healthy ocean fish. River fish is much more fatty and tasty, but rivers are often heavily polluted.

I think different meats appeal to different individuals more or less, and that may change with time. If I found ocean fish to be more of my liking I'd be having it more often.

Another exception for me is fish eyes. Those are delicious. But they would look at me really weird if I went into the seafood store and told them I just wanted the eyes from all the fish lol.
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Offline Eric

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2016, 05:28:36 am »
I wonder what you guys think about rotating herds in the way Joe Salatin suggests...

Salatin's method is basically management intensive grazing, which is the gold standard among grass farmers. It can grow a cow or steer to slaughter weight relatively fast (say 18-24 months relative to other grass-based methods that might require 36 months or more), and in my mind that's where it fails. Anytime you're raising an animal with the intention of slaughtering it ASAP the meat will miss out on the many phytochemicals that accumulate over years of diverse eating. This is a point that Derek (aka Sabertooth) noted in his initial post, and it's something that I think is hugely important. This is why tribal hunters went after large adult animals primarily, because they recognized that their meat and organs were more nutritionally valuable. Of course they'd take a little one if it was easy, but the hunters who brought back fawns weren't the ones who were revered. The revered hunters were those who could bring back older adults.

Salatin's method is also grass-based in a literal sense, which means the forage he offers cattle is mostly grass rather than a more even mix of grass and other herbaceous vegetation. Limiting forage to grass makes sense economically because the protein and sugar content of the forage is higher and you'll end up with a 1,000 pound animal sooner, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll end up with better quality meat when the animal goes to slaughter. Basically, management intensive grazing systems are designed to find a middle ground between a desire for somewhat higher quality meat (which comes from allowing cattle and other grazers to forage on pasture) and a desire to make money. The fact that financial concerns are involved in the tradeoff means that grass farmers will deliver lower quality meat than if financial concerns weren't part of their management decision making.
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Offline dariorpl

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2016, 06:43:01 am »
How does Salatin limit forage? I thought he just allowed his herds to graze on whatever forage naturally occurs on the land.

About the money aspect, it seems to me that it could be possible to run an operation where most animals are slaughtered young to sell cheap meat, and some are allowed to mature to the point where the meat has the highest levels of nutrients, but you sell that meat for a higher price, one that is enough to cover your extra costs. That could be a potential solution.

It's interesting what you mentioned about hunters. Generally wild predators go for young or old prey because they're the easiest to kill, and avoid healthy adults as they're the hardest to kill.
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Offline dariorpl

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2016, 06:46:57 am »
Also another question, for whoever feels like answering it, is it too hard to manage adult bulls without the use of neutering? And if so, would you only allow cows to reach full maturity?
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Offline Eric

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2016, 07:26:47 am »
How does Salatin limit forage?

If he's like most grass farmers, his pastures are fairly heavily managed. He probably seeds with whatever forage he'd like to see dominate on a yearly basis, and if a pasture drifts too far from his ideal species composition he might plow it under and start again or use a broad-spectrum herbicide to kill everything and start again. If your goal is to make money in grass farming, you can't just waltz into a field and graze cattle. You need to manage the field for particular species that your cattle can digest and that allow the cattle to gain weight as fast as they can.
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Offline RogueFarmer

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2016, 07:31:45 am »
Eric I do not understand how I disagree with you so much. Honestly I do not know exactly what Salatin is doing, but he was doing MIG nearly 40 years ago. He is on to bigger and better things. They haven't planted a pasture seed on their farm in over 50 years! The cows eat mostly grass because that's what cows naturally eat mostly and that's what naturally grows back there. They no longer use MIG (which they sort of invented) they are much closer to HM, Holistic Management. They have always sweat their crop diversity.

Eric I disagree with your northeast assessment. I think your condemnation is an omen to anyone who lives in the North East that they should gtfo because there is no other sustainable agricultural model to replace that industry. Sure grazing livestock evolved in the dry lands so they do better in the west, but they do much worse in the south and not much better in the mid west.

I fervently disagree with your idea that plants that are high in sugar or protein are not nutritious and cause nutritional shortfalls. That is exactly the total opposite of the truth. Perhaps they are growing the wrong forages for the stock they are raising. Perhaps their methods are not sound. Protein is not a problem in the North East, if you are having a protein problem on pasture in the north east, there is something seriously wrong with that pasture. There are only energy problems, carbohydrate problems. Protein problems do not happen to ruminant livestock on decent pasture. Never heard tell. Plenty of decent pasture in the north east, it's only problem is it's low in sugar, over watered and the season is short.

The problem with grazing operations in the North East is that THEY FEED HAY. Hay is the biggest economic factor on the majority of beef farms in the U.S. But making hay is generally highly unprofitable in the U.S. Make the animals do the work and then you have profit. Animals that work for a living are profitable. Animals you have to haul feed to are probably not!

Young cattle is not a new problem. This started back in the great depression. It used to be you raised a steer for 4-5 years and local farm beef was almost always an old cull cow, 4-5 year old steers were marched into cities. So farmers were eating meat that was usually 8+ years old and city people were eating 4-5 year old. This is what they used to call "aged meat" back then. Then the great depression came along with the dust bowl and STEERSMEN (an old somewhat extinct type of farmer) could no longer afford to keep their cattle for so long, while grain was plentiful and cheap, the tradition of feedlot and grainfed took root in America.


Offline RogueFarmer

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #15 on: June 24, 2016, 07:32:40 am »
If he's like most grass farmers, his pastures are fairly heavily managed. He probably seeds with whatever forage he'd like to see dominate on a yearly basis, and if a pasture drifts too far from his ideal species composition he might plow it under and start again or use a broad-spectrum herbicide to kill everything and start again. If your goal is to make money in grass farming, you can't just waltz into a field and graze cattle. You need to manage the field for particular species that your cattle can digest and that allow the cattle to gain weight as fast as they can.

JOEL DOESN't OWN A PLOW AND IF HE DOES IT's FOR DECORATION. HE DOESNT PLANT PASTURE SEEDS, IF HE DOES THAT'S NEWS TO ME LOL

He doesn't use chemicals rofl...

Joel doesn't use shit, they don't vaccinate, they don't use chemical wormers, they don't spray fertilizer, they don't till fields, they don't plant seeds, they don't cut down the forest, they don't use pesticides.

Pretty sure I told you in the thread I made that Polyface was practically a permaculture farm. They are like 90% there and a lot closer than most so called permaculture farms.

Offline RogueFarmer

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2016, 07:41:51 am »
Fascinating posts, sabertooth, RogueFarmer and Eric.

I wonder what you guys think about rotating herds in the way Joe Salatin suggests, which is to allow the grasses to spend the most time growing at their maximum growth rate, which seems to be somewhere around the middle of the growth cycle, as when the grass blades are too short, they grow slowly as they can't capture much sunlight, and when they're long, they spend more energy flowering and developing seeds and so stop growing as much. But maybe those later stage processes are useful to feed your herds some more protein.

That's old stuff he doesn't do that anymore.

Offline Eric

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2016, 07:43:19 am »
RF, what do you see as the difference between management intensive grazing and holistic management? I think of holistic management, as defined by Allan Savory, as being one type of management intensive grazing. I don't see them as being overwhelmingly different.
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Offline RogueFarmer

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #18 on: June 24, 2016, 08:02:02 am »
But they are, MIG is producing what they believe to be the highest yield per acre with grass. HM is using animals as a tool to manage landscapes. Generally but not always MIG will yield more initially but over time HM will yield more. Only in the most ideal grass growing environments should MIG be able to surpass HM I believe.

The economics of MIG are kind of totally thrashed by the fact that you generally have to replant pastures which is an insane economic burden, even planting a couple of acres was always somewhat daunting to me. And I bet it is really daunting to those who do it. I mean it's not easy to kill everything in a field and plant it to new seeds and expect to get something better than what you started with. That's an art in and of itself.

Offline dariorpl

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #19 on: June 24, 2016, 09:13:59 am »
RogueFarmer, what is old Salatin stuff and how has that changed now?

As far as the financial aspects, what I'm looking at is yield per dollar invested, not yield per acre, as I don't own any land as of yet and am looking to buy some in the future, after I learn how to farm. But different land in different areas has a different price per acre, so that needs to be accounted for. And yield should really be defined as yield in quantity times quality, not simply quantity. I liked what you said about raising different type of livestock together, as that will allow you to maximize the natural resources each of them can utilize. As long as the bigger ones don't displace the smaller ones and get all of the best grasses.

Would it be too complicated for a small commercial farm to raise various kinds of grazers along with pigs, chickens, rabbits, and perhaps a few others; along with bees, and some garden vegetables and fruits? Some people have told me it's easier to just specialize on one thing. But I think there are also plenty of benefits to be gained from doing multiple things at the same time. For instance the bees can get nectar and pollen from your own flowering plants, anything that rots you can feed to your pigs or your worm farm which will in turn feed the chickens, and the chicken manure can in turn supplement the pigs' diet. Also once customers get to know your farm and they know you sell top quality foods, they can buy all of your products, and not just one or two. That way even with a relatively smaller number of customers you can get plenty of sales.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2016, 09:38:51 am by dariorpl »
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Offline dariorpl

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #20 on: June 24, 2016, 09:35:20 am »
Something else that's been on my mind:

For a dairy farm (whether it's cows or sheep or goat or all of the above), if you're roating your herds along different areas, it seems to me that if your grazing area was big enough, it could make some sense to have a mobile milking parlor, rather than a fixed one where all your herds have to be dragged to every day, as they go back and forth from the grazing lands to the milking parlor.

Also I've seen a documentary once where they showed dairy cows willfully entering the milking parlor and hooking themselves onto the automatic milking machines (the hooking was automatic with the movements being controlled by a computer) without being led there. I found that very suspicious. Do you think that happens with organically raised cows who have to be kept constantly pregnant or with a young calf, or is it something that just happens with cows that are given huge amounts of hormones to increase milk production?
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Offline sabertooth

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #21 on: June 24, 2016, 12:33:55 pm »
I like where this discussion has gone.

Let us not quibble over trifles, and recognize that there are no "economically viable" strictly paleo way to raise animals in intensively grazed and managed plots of land...compared to all the optimal qualities of wide open wild free ranging beast. True, there are some exceptionally ethically run Grass and foraged based farms that offer phenomenal quality, but these seem to be the exception to the rule. In order for fenced fields to handle such intense grazing, of typical commercial operations, many compromises are being made that drastically affect the taste and quality of the final product.

https://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/forages/publications/ay98.htm
Where I live the bane of my existence is Fescue hay. The butcher I apprenticed under took me out to farms and pointed out how much of the grazing land has been overtaken by fescue....much of the land I surveyed was covered in it, with little else other than some briers and other noxious plants that the voracious cattle passed over for some reason. Tons of Engineered Fescue was planted all over the united states, for the very reason that it could withstand such intensive grazing operations of confined pasture operations. Even pastures which have been gentrified by ethical grass operations are still greatly depleted from the kind of wild forage variety of untouched and wide open lands. Generations of cutting fields down for hay and and over grazing has taken a toll, the occasional brush fires which did so much to rejuvenate the land have been BLM-ed out of existence. Fescue has a symbiant fungus which it has evolved to prevent animals form being able to over graze. It is my theory, this Fescue fungus along with other detrimental molds, metastasize in the cut roll bails that many grass operations use to supplement their animals, overloading the animals detox capabilities and causing the God awful, piss poor flavor, of a lot of the Grass Fed Labeled meat on the market.

The confinement of animals to a fenced pasture, though in no way nearly as abhorrent as fed lots, still can be a problem. Truly free animals would never remain in such a confined range, with so dense of numbers per acre. Many "grass fed" operations have limited land and so have to constantly rotate the animals and in many situations large numbers are kept in small paddocks and fed hay while the fields recover. In these crammed conditions they begin to become inundated with their own waste manure. This leads to problems with worms, other parasites, and infections, that are often treated with chemical wormers and Farmaceuticals. These problems are indeed only problems for capitalistic humans...for nature parasites, infections, infertility, starvation in overgrazing situations are all intelligently crafted solutions to the biological problems caused by imbalance in the ecosystem. I worked at a plant that did Grass fed that processed for Whole Foods, many if not all of the animals as far as I was told had been dewormed and vaccinated at sometime in their lives. Many of these animals taste badly, and harbored obvious signs of ill health. 

The Land is a living being, and what we see as independent plant and animal phenomenon, "competing for the right to survive" are in reality components of a much larger interconnected and interdependent organism. Manure waste needs time to break down and be recycled..... the vegetation needs time to recover from the onslaughts of the herbivoreian hordes of grazing animals....The animals evolved to comb over and manicure and fertilize the entire eco-scape, spreading the seeds of life and fertility far and wide.  A well balanced arrangement between these dynamics, is the basis for the evolution of a thriving world. Through the evolution of this natural order, much higher, complexities and intelligence's emerge....as an accumulative pattern which contains the all and everything,  each "eminence front" becomes much more than the sum of its parts.....

Any sincere quest for the optimal health and vitality, would benefit from considering these larger than life inter connected relationships present in every living system. Our ancestors ascent into technological realms of consciousness, and away from the intrinsic biological understanding was governed by the natural order... I believe, when technology is used intentionally to alter the dynamics of the eco-scape, against the inclinations of the biological imperatives, and toward the aims of Domination, there is an establishment of the interference pattern which obscures any chance of reconciling technological with the biological.

Human intervention no matter how slight it may seem, can dramatically alter the dynamic of the these living systems in dramatic ways, that are barely recognized. Animals forced to live on confined pastures in intensive farming operations overburden the land, the bio toxins and parasites in the manure act as gentle repellent, which encourages the animals to move on, instinctively, giving the land time to recover. Many highly nutritious plants with sweet and tender shoots will if threatened begin to excrete biological agents and the free ruminators can go from area to area nibbling on the shoots and moving on before the repellent chemicals are secreted, while the confined pasture animals are often forced by hunger to eat all parts of the plant. When the capacity of the land to support one strain of life form, reaches its limit nature begins to react.

Tragically to the determent of ourselves as well as the living earth, man kind is using technological methods in efforts to hack these environmental systems without paying heed to natures warning. The industrial scale, Applying of unproven technology, corrupted by market economics, toward meat production, while willfully ignoring the primacy of quality in favor of monetary profit has created a desperate situation in many parts of the civilized world for those who seek the best quality meats under the sun. 
« Last Edit: June 24, 2016, 01:06:51 pm by sabertooth »
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Offline RogueFarmer

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #22 on: June 24, 2016, 10:36:51 pm »
Something else that's been on my mind:

For a dairy farm (whether it's cows or sheep or goat or all of the above), if you're roating your herds along different areas, it seems to me that if your grazing area was big enough, it could make some sense to have a mobile milking parlor, rather than a fixed one where all your herds have to be dragged to every day, as they go back and forth from the grazing lands to the milking parlor.

Also I've seen a documentary once where they showed dairy cows willfully entering the milking parlor and hooking themselves onto the automatic milking machines (the hooking was automatic with the movements being controlled by a computer) without being led there. I found that very suspicious. Do you think that happens with organically raised cows who have to be kept constantly pregnant or with a young calf, or is it something that just happens with cows that are given huge amounts of hormones to increase milk production?

These exist in several forms including massive trailers that cows actually load up into to be milked. Yes some organic farms do use robotic milking equipment. These artifacts allow cows to milk themselves whenever they desire. I'm not a big fan, especially since those units run about a million dollars per one, however there are some advantages.

Salatin no longer uses MIG. I don't know exactly what he does but it's pretty much HM. MIG tells you to graze grass in it's most rapid growth spurts. HM says exactly the opposite. HM says allow forages to reach sexual maturity before grazing them and if you don't allow them to reach sexual maturity before they are grazed a second time. Do not graze one field more than once before allowing every desired species to reach maturity. HM utilizes STOCKPILED forages (tall yellow grass generally with weeds growing up in between).

HM is not always more healthy for livestock than MIG, MIG is generally healthier for your herd, however in the long run, HM will produce superior forages and superior animals and superior yields. Using HM allows pastures to evolve in the most similar way to natural probably still possible in most parts of the world today.

The first 5 years of HM perhaps Sabertooth, would be inferior to truly free range wilderness. But after those 5 years of good management, most farms will surely be superior and produce superior produce to most of the wilderness left on the planet.

I don't even think it's just a problem of farmers wanting more money. Like you guys say, few of them make much money. I don't think this is because farming isn't profitable. I think it is because humans in general are kind of stupid and aren't very good at making their own decisions. They watch what their neighbors do and they follow suit. Organic farms typically largely resemble their conventional neighbors and can only be told apart from a distance by discerning eyes. Farmers who have trouble running their business generally shoot for a better quality of life, so they make farm decisions based on whatever it is that suits their needs. Like only buying a farm with a really nice house, getting some horses to ride around on, buying a great big tractor and a bunch of new hay making equipment. How about a SILO. All of those things could by themselves make a farm unprofitable! Joel Salatin calls SILOS "bankruptcy tubes".

HM is different. Practicing HM forces the farmer to create a grazing plan. It forces the farmer to learn everything he can about his farm and how to improve it. It forces the farmer to think about his farm and ever way it impacts the earth and the local community. Using HM allows the farmer to know when to sell animals or when to buy animals to manage the available forage on his land. Generally utilizing HM, land can support as many as twice as many animals in the second year and as many as 5 times as many animals or sometimes even more in as little as 5 years.

Holistic management forces you to consider things that almost no one ever does. It forces you to consider everything involved in your life and your environment. Similar to Permaculture, many claim holistic management but fewer truly practice it. Most are limited by land space like you said. When you graze for grass instead of grazing for cattle, really amazing things start to happen. Diversity and pasture quality skyrockets. Turns out cows and grass were meant to be together.

Offline RogueFarmer

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2016, 10:41:22 pm »
Using HM even fescue dominated pastures can be turned around in as little as one grazing! Fescue is a double edged sword. There are some really good aspects to fescue and the endophyte is not always a problem. Fescue though low in nutrition and high in toxin, is basically free and also happens to be about the most cold resistant perennial grass that grows in the midwest. This means stockpiled fescue is basically the most economical winter feed for cattle herds in much of the eastern United States and elsewhere. There is little endophyte toxicity in this winter growth.

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Re: Beyond Grass fed
« Reply #24 on: June 25, 2016, 01:30:30 am »
When Farming an Ideal one may assume as one wishes, but should avoid impossibilities. When speaking of "impossibly" high standards for mass food production, one must avoid falling into relativistic comparison based thinking. Many farmers are perfectly happy producing higher than the average quality, and being able to eek out a decent profit.... but this thread is focused on seeking out the Supreme, and I find many practices which are implemented for economic reasons to be a determent to the kind of qualities I have attuned my senses to seek out.

Even so called low endophyte loads in supplemental fescue adversly affect the taste and quality of the meat. In Kentucky it is a big problem for me personally, I see the huge roll bails out in the fields which are a main staple for many operations. The Kentucky climate is naturally conducive for molds and mildews so this rolled hay often contains high toxic loads which may not kill the animal , but it affects the taste of the meat, and most likely the health and vitality of those who consume it.

Economics are at the core of these issues, because of personal property and the limitations being set by the BLM and other systems of control, the open range land is not being utilized to its potential. There are parts of the west that are open range, where property owners have to fence out livestock, instead of having them fenced in. An enlightened approach to establishing large scale open ranges would be Ideal in boasting the production of sustainable, ethically produced, and economically viable meat production....sadly the system is crippled with ignorance and greed to the core. Over the years since agenda 21 governmental entities have taxed and regulated most of the large scale free rangers out of business, in effect deliberate subverting and subsiding open range operations, while at the same time actively subsidizing feed lot cesspool production operations. Even Farmers who want to produce the best quality and the costumers who are willing to pay extra for it are being cheated by the structure of the system of land management , ownership, and control which works to seems to deliberately stifle independent and sell sufficient enterprises, with a kind of modern day feudalism

Perhaps for the majority of the people in the world, sour tasting fescue fed meat is a healthy alternative to commercial GMO finished meat, but for someone who eats over two pounds give or take, each day, it is of paramount importance that I find something beyond.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2016, 03:38:50 am by sabertooth »
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