Demand for grass-fed beef is exceeding current supply, according to reports from Tallgrass Beef Company (www.tallgrassbeef.com) in Sedan, KS, and Thousand Hills Cattle Company (www.thousandhillscattleco.com) in Cannon Falls, MN.
“We're turning down a good many customers because we don't have an available supply of harvest-ready cattle,” Tallgrass CEO, Allen Williams, says. “Demand exploded in 2008. Many retailers and restaurants who weren't previously interested in our product are today. We think a lot of that has to do with keeping up with their competition.”
Williams doesn't expect the supply issue to change for at least 18 months, either. After all, most grass-fed animals are 18-24 months old before they're market ready.
“We're working with current finishers in an effort to expand the number of cattle they're finishing and actively seeking new forage finishers in different regions of the country, but this isn't something you just pick up and start doing immediately,” Williams says. “Usually it takes a new grass-finished-beef producer 1-2 years to get comfortable with a grass-fed program. It's nowhere near as easy as some might think.”
If you are considering making a transition to a grass-fed operation, Williams suggests you consult someone in the industry. Start with your Extension educator, or visit the two websites listed here.