The summer season is great for many things and the quality of grass fed beef is near the top of that list. It seems that almost every week when our steers arrive from Slope Farms (Meridale, NY), “ooo’s” and “ahh’s” are heard as we marvel at the beautiful marbling.
While much of the cattle grown in this country are raised in feedlots on a corn and grain diet, there are many cattle breeds which are still adapted to a grass diet and many farmers working tirelessly to raise these animals the old fashioned way. We spoke with Ken Jaffe of Slope Farms to learn a little more about what makes their beef so good right now.
In the summer, abundant sweet grasses mean that cattle are able to eat to their heart’s content, which results in fattier cuts of meat. As Jaffe noted, grazing itself is the work of timing to create proper mix of protein and energy for the animals. They are raised on a well managed pasture – with specific plant species for intensive rotational cattle grazing. The Angus breed of cattle at Slope Farms has shorter legs and broader chests which are indicative of their grass grazing ways.
Main Species for Grazing
Grasses: Orchard grass, timothy, ryegrass, brome grass
Legumes: red clover, white clover, crown vetch, alfalfa
Forbs: dandelion, plantain, bedstraw, milkweed, burdock, chickweed
They stay away from the thistle!
When snowfall begins, however, the steer are provided with silage, grasses that are baled and fermented in the summer months, preserved for the colder months. Silage, which has an increased bioavailability of vitamins and gut friendly bacteria, is lower in fat than fresh grasses, so their meat is a bit leaner. Lean or marbled… what’s your pleasure?