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Archive for February 3, 2011

It’s More Than Corn: Grass v Grain, Some Simple Facts

I have now written seven posts pertaining to feeds and the feeding of cattle, with the hope to explain with clarity two things: corn is not the only feed fed to cattle and grass finishing cattle is less efficient than grain finishing.

Do not take this the wrong way, please. I have nothing against grass finished cattle. In fact, I fully support the marketing of the product as a wonderful opportunity to offer consumers more choices. In fact, I raise some grass-fed to meet that specific market.

What I do take exception to is when some individuals make claims that are untrue and misleading.

Claim: Grass finished cattle take the same amount of time to reach their end point.

Grass is wonderful for growing cattle, but due to the low digestible energy (DE), when compared to grain, is not an efficient means to finish cattle. Grain finished cattle reach an endpoint around 13 – 15 months of age, while grass finished cattle reach an endpoint around 19 – 23 months. An animals breed, genetics and frame size also play a role in determining how quickly an animal will reach their endpoint. However, the biggest factor is the animals diet; high energy yields quicker gains and lower energy yields slower gains.

S Curve for Grain & Grass

Grass vs Grain Sigmoid Growth Curve

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