The similarities of grassfed beef and dairy

By Allen Williams, Ph.D.

The grassfed beef sector has expanded rapidly over the past decade, ballooning from less than $40 million in domestic retail sales value in 2005 to $550 million in 2015. Annual sales growth of grassfed beef averaged 25-30% over the period.

Interest in “100% grassfed” dairy is also taking off, with the sector poised to experience the same exponential growth as grassfed beef. This brings up a few questions.

What can people who want to develop a vibrant grassfed dairy sector learn from the grassfed beef sector? What are the similarities? What are the contrasts? Continue reading “The similarities of grassfed beef and dairy”

Trees and pasture can grow together

Pigs graze in the woods

Silvopasture important part of diversified Forks Farm grazing

By Tracy Frisch
Orangeville, Pennsylvania—
For many graziers, the woodlot is a place where the livestock end up when they break through the fence. For others, it’s a poorly managed shade lounge for hot summer afternoons. For John Hopkins, trees represent a natural extension of his pasture management.

And woodlot management. At Forks Farm, tree lots are viewed as something more than providers of summer shade and winter shelter. They are valued for providing diversity and complexity to the farm’s grazing program. And the grazing stock are viewed as improving the quality and market value of the trees by controlling competing weeds and brush. Continue reading “Trees and pasture can grow together”

Selecting cattle for finishing on grass

Allen Williams

By Allen Williams, Ph.D.

Over the past three months we have looked at the basics of seedstock genetic selection for producing the kind of cattle that are capable of meeting the demands of the grassfed beef market. This month we will concentrate on selecting for the stocker or feeder cattle that we are actually going to finish on forage.

And as with the seedstock, selection for cattle to finish is primarily a matter of proper phenotype and genotype. To determine the desired phenotype and genotype, we first have to identify the end-product target. Continue reading “Selecting cattle for finishing on grass”

The future of grassfed: Laying out the promise and challenges

Allen Williams

By Dr. Allen Williams

The U.S. grassfed market has grown significantly over the past 15 years. According to data compiled by the Wallace Center of the Winrock Foundation, retail sales of domestically produced grassfed beef were less than $5 million in 1998, with only about 100 beef producers actively involved in grassfed beef production. By 2012, domestic retail sales of grassfed beef had topped $400 million, with more than $1.5 billion in combined domestic and imported product sales.

That amounts to exponential growth for grassfed beef by any measure. Certainly grassfed production and marketing have come a long way in the U.S. over the past decade or so, with continued growth projected. Continue reading “The future of grassfed: Laying out the promise and challenges”

Big frames, big grass-finished flavor

Baldwin Charolais beef doesn’t require fat to produce quality

by Mike Hillerbrand
Yanceyville, North Carolina
— Most of the buzz in grass-finished beef circles today is about the benefits of small frame sizes, English genetics and marbling ability. This, it is said, is the sort of beef genetics required to produce profits straight from pasture.

Meanwhile, Baldwin Family Farms is producing lean, large (frame score 7-8) Charolais cattle on grass and selling critically acclaimed beef to loyal retail and wholesale customers. Continue reading “Big frames, big grass-finished flavor”

Grass-fed beef by the numbers

Even EPDs have their place in genetic selection

By Jim Munsch Coon Valley, Wisconsin—I am often asked about the best breed for grass-based beef production. Most grass-fed experts say that a high proportion of English genetics is important. I lean that way myself — we have Angus.

But I always tell people that the specific breed is not the most important factor in grass-fed, as within each breed there are animals that can do well in your grass system, and those that won’t. When asked about breeds, I instead treat the questioner to a long explanation involving “type” and the methods for managing genetics. Continue reading “Grass-fed beef by the numbers”