Grain Finishing Steers

Hi I’m Mike, and today we begin the process of finishing steers for eventual sale of beef

to our customers, also we take a look at the debate between grass fed and grain finished

beef , on Our Wyoming Life.

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I promised the kids that I would show you guys the new boots they got me for Christmas,

a lot of of you have asked about my boots and here is the scoop.

These new boots are from Ariat’s farm and ranch line of boots, the only kind of boots

I wear, and I’ve tried lots of boots.

Almost every year I get a new pair of boots and now I only choose Ariat, they fit me right

and they last forever, and after wearing them all day, they are the only boots that I can

take off and not leave my feet aching.

Today, we have to get these brand-new boots dirty, as we start graining the steers, the

grass-fed steers.

But wait, cows can’t be grass fed and grain fed, that doesn’t make sense.

Marketing lately has us believing that there is grass fed beef and grain fed beef and the

differences between the two are astronomical, but is all the hype true?

What’s the difference and is one better than the other?

I’ll try to shed some light on the subject as head out to move some cows around, up until

now the older steers, the younger steer calves, and the replacement heifers have all been

living together in one corral, but now its time to separate off the older steers so that

we can start finishing them.

To get beef from the pasture to your plate, cattle undergo a finishing process and since

World War I, calves have been sold and sent to feedlots to be finished to ideal slaughter

size and weight.

Here on the ranch we keep a few steers back each year to do just that on a much smaller

scale, ending up with a richer flavor beef and more tenderness associated with grain

finished beef.

You can’t start talking about finishing beef without getting into the grass fed or

grain finished beef debate.

In reality, all cattle, are grazed on pasture at some point in their lives and are grass


Meat labeled as grass fed beef means that it has only eaten grass or hay from the time

it was weaned from its mom, grass fed beef is usually more expensive because it is done

on a smaller scale and there has been a lot of debate over which type of beef, grass fed

or grain fed, is more nutritious.

Grass fed beef has more omega -3 fatty acids, while grain fed beef has more oleic acid with

less saturated and trans fats.

Both types of fats are considered good fats and a study from Texas A&M found that the

impact of eating both kinds of meat on cholesterol is the same if the fat content of the meat

is similar.

Many sources have also noted that grass fed beef contains more Vitamin A&E than grain

fed beef, but in reality, neither type provides enough of this vitamin to really make a difference

in your diet, you’d be much better to eat a carrot.

The final component that has been discussed is Antioxidants and Beta carotene, which grass

fed beef has been shown to be higher in these components, again though, not enough, you’d

get more of antioxidants and beta carotene from eating carrots, greens and blueberries.

Much to Erin’s delight and stimulating her sales from farmers market.

So, all beef provides a nutrient rich protein, providing your body with a critical resource.

Research suggests, that higher protein intakes may be good for your health, can help with

weight management, preventing osteoporosis and reducing your risk for cardiovascular


The big difference between grass fed and grain fed beef is based on your taste or the price,

that’s it.

No matter what meat you eat, you can be confident that your food is safe, nutritious and a healthful

choice for you and your family.

I know there are going to be people that ask why we don’t just grass feed our beef, its

a lot easier, you don’t have to feed them grain everyday and track their intake and

you can charge more money for it.

Here on the ranch we take pride in giving our customers the best product that we can

produce and grain finishing provides the flavor and the marbling that will produce a higher

quality cut of meat.

Marbling is intramuscular fat and as meat cooks fat melts, making the cut of meat tender

and moist and infuses it with meat flavor.

As you can imagine, its difficult to get fat by eating grass, which is why you’ve probably

never seen a grass-fed beef that was graded prime, despite the fact that grass fed beef

is more expensive.

Feeding our steers grain produces exactly the kind of beef that we wish to sell and

the process starts right here in the corrals.

We have seven steers in this corral, each one weighs between 800-900 lbs and up until

now they have been given hay to eat daily along with a taste of grain every few days.

Beginning today, their diet will be stepped up and after they are separated they will

begin getting an increasing amount of grain per day, starting at just a few pounds apiece

and over the next 60 days that ration will be increases slowly until they are enjoying

almost 30lbs of grain each per day.

All this grain will cause them to gain weight, and produce that marbling we talked about


Sorting them off is easy enough, hopefully.

We just need to keep them in one corral while we move the rest of the calves into another


Slow and steady wins the race here as we practice low stress cattle handling techniques and

let the cows take the lead, moving themselves to an environment that they feel more comfortable


Years ago when we first came to the ranch, it might have taken me an hour to sort these

cows, but the more you work with cattle, the more you become in sync with them, you get

used to the way they move and their body language.

And when dealing with animal that weighs 4 times more than me, I’m going to let them

make the rules.

No rush and no pressure.

Eventually, we get them sorted off and moved back into their own new corral, where they

have hay and water waiting for them, along with their first taste of extravagance in

their new life.

Corn, Oats and Barley, a combination we call COB.

Finishing our own beef allows us to know exactly what goes into each steer, we use no antibiotics

and no growth hormones.

They receive all-natural food and are raised with enough room to move around and be comfortable.

They have shelter from the weather and always have clean fresh water available to them.

We respect all of our animals, because without them, there is no ranch.

The grass-fed vs grain fed beef debate I’m sure will continue, probably long after any

of us have the teeth to chew through a steak anyway, but the truth is that some people

prefer grass fed and some prefer grain fed.

For me it all comes down to taste, I’ve tried both and grain fed beef provides the

tenderness and the flavor that I have grown to love.

There’s also something to be said about raising your own food.

Whether it’s a carrot, an orange or steak, and if you can’t raise it yourself, do me

a favor and visit your local farmers market, support those that do raise your food.

Talk to a farmer or a rancher and learn exactly what goes into it, we can all look at a chicken

mcnugget and pretend we don’t know what it is, because it tastes so good, but you

can know what you are eating, and get it from the growers mouth, not the food….That would

be weird, like a baby bird thing.

You know what I mean.

Come back later this week as we try to tackle the project list again on Tuesday and I’m

inviting you personally to come join Erin and me Thursday night at 7pm mountain time

for a live stream right here on YouTube, where we will be answering questions from you and

throwing in our own two cents as well.

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Have a great week, and thanks for joining us in our Wyoming life.