Our cattle never visit a feedlot and instead remain on grass in pastures adjoining those in which their dams are resting and readying themselves for their next calving season. They fatten naturally on the nutrients from our pristine soil and water that support our pasture salad of mixed grasses. As they never leave our pastures, we know precisely what our cattle have eaten and how healthy they have been from birth to fully grown. This rigorous protocol ensures that Wolf Creek Farm maintains its certification from the American Grassfed Association. Grass feeding and grass finishing is the key not only to animal health and happiness but also to the quality, taste, and nutritional value of their meat. As with all animals, including humans, you are what you eat.
In stark contrast, over 98% of the beef sold in the US is finished on grain, typically corn. Calves are abruptly weaned off their dams and shipped to feedlots where they are confined with hundreds or thousands of other calves in tight, dirt or mud pens so they cannot walk freely and have no grass to graze but are force fed grain to fatten them quickly. With so many animals coming together from so many different farm environments, often with no vaccines, and stressed from long distance shipping, disease outbreaks are commonplace. As a result, most if not all feedlots mix some level of antibiotics with their feed. In order to cut costs, some feedlot operations, or the commercial farms supplying them with calves, feed byproducts from other industries, including chewing gum, and distillery and brewery wastes, such as those produced by the new ethanol fuel refineries.. In nearly all cases, feedlots include animal fats (often from cattle processed at the feedlot in prior months) as well as animal excrement as a source of additional protein. This results not only in unhappy and unhealthy animals but also in polluted ground water around and under the feedlots. In addition to the calves coming through feedlots, nearly 25% of the US meat supply comes from cull cows from the industrial dairy and meat conglomerate farms, some of which are actually “downer” cows, unable to walk to harvest under their own power.