Big Beef Today & Small Beef of Years Ago

What is the Difference Between the Big Beef of Today & the Small Beef of Years ago?

Is there a difference between the big beef of today & small beef of years ago? Pryor to 1950 (before the feedlot revolution), farmers would routinely butcher their beef either while they were still nursing their mothers or shortly thereafter. Because they were younger, they were smaller in size. These cattle would “finish” at lighter weights. “Finished” is a term used to mean that meat has reached its optimum flavor and tenderness.

With the feedlot revolution incorporating cheap grain, primarily corn, a whole new industry developed, fueled by big money. Cattle were bred to produce beeves that required a longer time to finish on grain, and the result was butchering beef at much heavier weights – up to 1,500 pounds!

Today with the health concerns raised with grain-fed beef, many people are looking back at the all-natural, grass-fed paradigm that existed prior to 1950. The big question by producers is how do we make these big cattle, created by the feedlot revolution, work in an all-natural, grass-fed paradigm. There are different opinions, of course, but BF Farms has chosen to go with its own history – what it was doing in the 1930s and 1940s. I can personally remember my father identifying a calf that he wanted for our meat. This calf would continue nursing its mother until it was slaughtered at around 600 to 700 pounds. This meat was fantastic! In fact, this was during the time when liver, accompanied by onions, was still one of the most popular dishes. I can’t say that about today’s, grain-fed liver!

It is this little bit of history, together with our research, and along with mother’s milk, that causes us to go with the smaller beef because we are better able to control the quality.

To accomplish this goal, we had to find the genetics. Research from Australia, where the Lowline Angus was developed, was our link. The Lowline Angus breed is a smaller animal that “finishes” at a younger age. We use the genetics of the very popular Angus breed, together with the Lowline Angus, and the tenderness of the Jersey breed that creates the grass-fed beef BF Farms is producing. With 5 generations of history at BF Farms, I guess you can say we have come full circle. Yes, our beef won’t weigh as much when they’re processed, but we feel we can deliver a better product. And remember, you only pay for what you get, regardless of its weight!

Posted on July 15, 2015 .