Opportunities to produce and market grass-finished beef are promising and profitable.
There are many opportunities that exist for grass finished beef, whether it is direct marketing off the farm or selling to a wholesale company that specializes in marketing grass finished beef.
"Grass finished" is defined by United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Management Assistance (USDA AMA) as grass or forage fed. Their definition states that in order for an animal to be grass or forage finished, they must meet the following standards.
• Grass and forage shall be the feed source consumed for the lifetime of the ruminant animal, with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning.
• The diet shall be derived solely from forage consisting of grass (annual and perennial), forbs (e.g., legumes, Brassica), browse or cereal grain crops in the vegetative (pre-grain) state.
• Animals cannot be fed grain or grain byproducts and must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season. Hay, haylage, baleage, silage, crop residue without grain and other roughage sources may also be included as acceptable feed sources.
• Routine mineral and vitamin supplementation may also be included in the feeding regimen.
• If incidental supplementation occurs due to inadvertent exposure to non-forage feedstuffs or to ensure the animal’s well being at all times during adverse environmental or physical conditions, the producer must fully document (e.g., receipts, ingredients, and tear tags) the supplementation that occurs including the amount, the frequency and the supplements provided.
To find out more about the USDA AMA standards for grass finishing, visit their online guide for grass fed marketing claim standards.