Today almost all beef sold in supermarkets is from corn-fed steers raised in large feedlots.
According to a 3/31/02 NY Times Magazine article a typical steer enters a commercial feedlot at 6 – 8 months and thereafter is fed a mixture of corn, alfalfa, liquefied fat, synthetic estrogen, liquid vitamins, proteins (mostly molasses and urea) and rumensin and tylosin (both antibiotics). The heavy concentration of corn makes the feedlot diet highly acidic, which destroys a steer’s stomach and liver, hence the growth supplements are needed to speed the steer to maturity and the antibiotics to keep it alive in the meantime. By 14 months, the steer will weigh more than 1,200 pounds and be ready for slaughter.
Our steers spend their entire growth period raised in our own pastures, ranging freely, and eating only our own hay and grasses.
There are significant health reasons to eat grass-fed beef; it has substantially less fat and the mix of fats is much healthier. Grass-fed beef has more omega-6 acids; it also contains CLA and betacarotine – good fats. By contrast, corn-fed beef is generally high in “bad cholesterol”, and low in “good cholesterol”.
A shorter growth period and government corn subsidies make corn-fed beef remarkably cheap and available year round. Grass-fed beef is generally more expensive to market since it takes about 6 months longer to mature. But it’s distinctive favor and full bodied taste distinguish it from the bland corn-fed beef found in most supermarkets.