We use the terms “Pasture Grazed” and “Grassfed” to describe our cattle operation. So what’s the difference?
The term grassfed (grass fed, grass-fed) refers to animals that are raised entirely without grain as part of their diet. Cattle are ruminants (have four stomachs) for digestion of vegetation. Prior to World War II, most cattle in the USA were grassfed. Following World War II, with surplus corn production, cattle were moved into feedlots and fed corn. Today, the term grassfed identifies cattle raised without being fed corn or other grain sources. Our cattle definitely meet the definition of “grassfed”. But grassfed really only defines the “diet” of the animal as being without grain. It does not define HOW the animal obtains its diet. An animal maybe “grassfed” and live a part of its life in a feedlot being fed a non-grain diet such as hay and silage.
When we describe out cattle as “pasture grazed” we are describing the animal’s diet as grassfed AND our cattle spend their entire life on pasture! We do not have any permanent confinement areas or dirt feedlots. Our animals spend 365 days per year in our pasture grazing for their diet. We do feed hay during part of the year but the hay is fed on the pasture. This helps improve our soil and grass, keeping the nutrients cycling as mother nature intended (not piled up in a feedlot).
Do we just turn the cattle out to pasture and leave them there?
- Absolutely not. Turning cattle into a pasture un-managed would be harmful. The soil and grass would be depleted along with the health of the cattle.
- We manage grazing in nature’s image. Imagine how our native prairies developed. Roaming herds of bison grazed moving all the time based on season, fire, predators, humans and other influences.
- We generally move our cattle daily to a “fresh” paddock.
- We use portable electric wire to keep the herd close together as predators would have influenced bison (see above photo).
- Unlike bison, our herd can only “roam” our property which requires us to offer minerals not found on our farm. Bison would have roamed large areas reaching unique “mineral licks” over their annual migration. Refer to our “Healthy Cows Eat Dirt” blog post.
Hopefully this gives you an overview of our pasture grazing operation. Please contact us if you would like to see our pasture grazed cattle in motion!