Is your beef from traditional or heirloom seed stock or is it the result of a genetically modified organism (GMO)? Traditional grass-finishing cattle breeds such as Black Angus and Polled Herefords, were developed by centuries of natural genetic improvements and have been preserved by thoughtful breeders. These traditional grass-finishing breeds differ greatly from many newer breeds and crossbreeds that have been developed from Continental stock solely with the feedlot finisher in mind.
Unfortunately, some traditional grass-finishing breeds, such as Black Angus, have been rapidly modified with artificial insemination and egg flushing technologies to produce a much larger framed animal that finishes quickly on grain. Most cattle in the US today have been bred to the specifications set by the industrial meat conglomerates, including; high birth weights, early weaning, rapid weight gain on grain, and finishing at a uniform 1600 lbs to conform to the meat packers' assembly lines. Through the increasing use of cloning and other advancing technologies this trend will only accelerate.
Fortunately, there are also several thoughtful breeders in the Black Angus realm who have endeavored to return this magnificent breed back to its traditional moderate frame size and excellent grass-finishing capabilities. Combined with their brethren Red Angus breeders and those focused on the Red Devon and Polled Hereford breeds, they are helping grass-fed beef farmers lead a resurgence of grass-fed natural beef.
In addition to knowing an animal’s genetic origins, it is also important to know where and under what conditions it was born, raised, and harvested. In the industrial beef industry, an animal typically changes hands five to ten times, crossing state and country borders multiple times throughout this process, before reaching the consumer. Consumers are justifiably concerned with how the industry can maintain the quality of their processes and end beef products through this complex industrial chain. The beef industy’s answer is to mandate RFID ear tags and rely upon government regulations and inspections. Contrast this with traditional farm to plate stewardship under which our customers can consume our beef comfortable in the knowledge that we have been responsible for our animals from birth to harvest and deliver quality beef directly to their tables.