Why You Should Let Your Cow Raise Your Beef
By Candi Johns
I believe if you just raised your own meat and eggs it could dramatically improve your diet and your health.
Commercial meat is traditionally raised with antibiotics, hormones and fed a diet filled with GMO (genetically modified) grains. The end product is high in calories, high in bad fats (Omega 6), low in good fats (Omega 3) and inferior in nutrition.
This is the meat found in most restaurants, fast food establishments and grocery store shelves everywhere.
If you consumed grassfed meat and eggs it would go a long way to transforming your health. Meat from grassfed animals contains antioxidants, vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid, the cancer fighting wonder-fat); additionally, they do not contain hormones, antibiotics or other drugs.
Grassfed beef is sometimes difficult to find and usually expensive to purchase. Raising your own grassfed meat is a far more affordable.
Getting a steer to raise yourself may seem like a stretch or a bit of an undertaking, but if you have a milk-cow it could be the easiest thing you’ve ever done.
Let Your Cow Raise Your Beef
Shortly after we made the decision to get a milk cow, we ended up raising our own beef as well. This is a decision you don’t really have to make if your cow delivers a little bull-calf.
We can’t keep him. We’ll eat him!
This is pretty much standard practice around our little homestead. If it’s a girl she stays. If it’s a boy – he’s dinner. Sorry. It’s the circle of life.
So, our milk cow had a sweet bull-calf. I have never been a big fan of milking a cow twice a day so I let the calves help me out (See “How to Milk a Cow Once a Day“). It’s wonderful. I get a life outside of the milk barn and the calf gets a fat, round belly on butterfat.
The arrangement is a marvelous one that allows me to milk mornings only. The calf is happy and so am I. At the end of the nine-month milk-sharing (with a calf) project, I had a 700-pound steer (a castrated male cow) for almost free.
After a short trip to our local processor, I had a freezer filled with homegrown, organic, pastured, tender, mouth-watering, grass and milk-fed, baby beef … for almost free.
Beef that is raised this way (on milk and grass) is sometimes called: “Milk and Meadow Beef” or “Baby Beef.”
Something we have found surprising about beef raised by our milk cows is the superior flavor and texture of the meat.
You have probably heard of grain-fed or grassfed beef. Grain-fed beef is marbled and tender. Grassfed beef is healthy and full of omega-3s (good fat). I would argue that beef raised on pasture and mama’s milk beats them all. It’s the best beef I’ve ever eaten. Period. Hands down. It’s healthy like grassfed beef and tasty like grain-fed beef. I think it’s the best of both worlds.
Our steer was on pasture his entire life. He ate grass, quality dry-hay, and all the milk he wanted. We never weaned him. He went straight from nursing his mama to the … um … freezer.
See this cute little thing?
He went from this:
In nine months.
Most folks wean the steer from the mamma around 6 months of age. Then they raise them on grass and hay then finish them with some grain until they are about 18 months old. Eighteen MONTHS! Can you imagine what this guy would look like in another nine months?
I have four small children who choose life – we could not continue to keep DH’s (my husband’s) 700-pound pet cow around another nine months. There was not a shortage of country folks giving us advice:
• He was too small.
• He was too young.
• He needed to be at least 1,000 pounds.
• We needed to “fatten” him on corn.
• We needed to wait until he was 18 months old.
• We needed to “finish” him on grain.
There was NO WAY we could keep the steer until he was 18 months old.
1. We only have an acre of pasture.
2. We have four small children.
3. A 1,200 pound animal (bull) would be just too dangerous on our current farm.
4. There was also no way I was going to pump my precious, grassfed, organic, milk-raised steer full of GMO corn or grain. The reason I am raising my own beef is to avoid this type of madness. No, thank you.
In order to keep our family safe we went against the advice from everyone around us and had our 700-pound steer processed. No grain. No corn. Not 1,200 pounds. Not 18 months old. We were told there would be no fat on him; we were told he would be tough, lean and dry.
Even the processor gently “warned” me when we dropped him off that there would be little to no fat and our burgers would be very lean. Boy, were they wrong.
We knew something was notable at approximately 7:30 a.m. when I got a call from the processor. I answered the phone and he wanted to know one thing:
Processor: “What were you feeding that steer?”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Processor: “I have never seen a layer of fat that thick on a cow that age in my life and I’ve seen a lot of cows. What were you feeding him?”
Me: “Grass and milk.”
Processor: “You didn’t feed him any grain?”
Me: “No, sir. His mama was a Jersey, cream-producing machine. He was nursing on her until we brought him to you yesterday.”
Processor: “Well, I’ll be darned.”
Benefits of Letting Your Cow Raise Your Beef:
1. Easy – leaving the calf with the cow is the most natural, easiest way to raise a calf. No bottles, Yipee!
2. Free – When the calf is getting most of its food from mama cow your bank account will thank you. No milk replacer, no bottles, no feed, no supplements.
3. Healthy –When the calf is left with its mama it will generally be a healthier animal. Likewise, the meat from this animal will be healthy for you; fully equipped with: antioxidants, vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, CLA, and don’t contain hormones, antibiotics or other drugs.
4. Taste – outstanding flavor and marbling.
I don’t think you will be disappointed if you let your cow raise your beef.
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