About Our Quality

Grass-fed Grass-finished

What’s the difference?

The difference between grass fed and non-grass-fed beef pertains to the diet of the cattle. Grass-fed cattle have not been fed grains, corn or soy while alive.  Cattle are meant to graze in open pastures on grass.  The “finishing” of the cattle refers to the last few months of the cow’s life when it is fattened for harvesting.  It is during these months that the animal gains 2 to 3 pounds a day.  Traditionally that was accomplished in feed lots where the animals were fed grain.  Grass finished beef, like that which FWTCC provides from the Dixon Water Foundation, is only fed grass for the life of the steer. The animal is fattened with natural grass. If you are looking for beef that comes from a cow raised entirely on grass, you must look for the “grass-finished” label.

Grass-fed beef is one of the most nutrient-dense proteins you can buy. It has an extensive micronutrient profile and contains a good amount of brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids.

According to the Mayo Clinic Grass-fed beef may have:

  • Less total fat
  • More heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
  • More conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that’s thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks
  • More antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E


Meat Quality

How Is Meat Graded?

The USDA grading system developed by the United States Department of Agriculture as a voluntary grading system based on the meat’s maturity and level of fat marbling. These two factors are indicators of the beef’s tenderness. Beef that is given a higher grade is usually from younger cattle and has more fat marbling.

There are eight grades of beef designated by the USDA to evaluate quality, only the top five of which are usually sold to consumers. Lower grades are most often used for processing and use in canned goods. The different beef grades are found in specific cuts of meat; each has its own unique uses and recommended cooking methods.

To receive a USDA grading on beef, manufacturers must pay for a trained inspector to grade the beef at the slaughterhouse. Once the beef is graded, the manufacturer must comply with the labeling requirements set by the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Consumers can find the USDA grading on the meat package label.

USDA Prime is the highest grade of beef with the most fat marbling. This meat is very tender and only accounts for about 2.9 percent of all graded beef. U.S. Prime is usually reserved for high-end dining establishments. Because this grade of beef has such a high level of fat marbling, it is excellent for dry-heat cooking methods. These include roasting, grilling, frying, broiling, and baking.