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Moving from grain finishing to grass-fed

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dryzedale

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Have some extra acreage this year and looking to add some grass-fed beef cattle or hogs. Done a bit of research already on costs and what to expect per pound by cut, but trying to answer a few more questions before jumping in. Currently, we finish our cattle with grain and looking to switch to grass-fed.

What are your top concerns?

  • Processing/slaughter challenges?
  • Market demand – finding consistent markets?
  • Getting fairly compensated?
  • Access to land?
  • Technical production issues?
  • Financing?
  • Others?
What would I need to expand production?

What challenges have you faced trying to start/build a sustainable protein business?

For those of you who have converted from a grain-fed finishing operation to a grass-fed, what all was involved?
 

leanin' H

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Number one issue will be RISK. We grain finish our calves and have had a select few customers ask for grass finished beef. I can sell a finished grain fed beef at 14-16 months on average. A truly finished grass fed beef is over 20 and some are 22. Now that is a very small sample size because we have only fed out half a dozen. But keeping calves around an extra 6-7 months adds a lot of risk of sickness, bloat and potential for injury. A true finished beef will have enough inter muscular fat for proper marbling. It’s tougher to do with grass fed. I wish ya well and hope ya can’t do what works best for ya. I’ve found that explaining to folks who THINK they want grass fed, the farm to fork process of what TRULY happens with grain fed cattle is effective in changing their mind. A high percentage of folks who wanted grass fed were only following bad advice or outright propaganda and didn’t really know how a beef converts grain and hay into protein. Anyway- best of luck
 

webfoot

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I did a lot of direct marketing when I lived over on the coast. Lots of people so lots of potential customers. Now I live in a county bigger than the state of Delaware with a total population of 16,000. Cattle out number the people by at least 4 to 1. Everyone owns a ranch or knows or is related to a rancher. Not many customers. The biggest down side to direct marketing is dealing with the people. If I loved dealing with difficult people I would get into another field. I am certain that would pay better than selling beef.
 

Mountain Cowgirl

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Done a bit of research already on costs and what to expect per pound by cut, but trying to answer a few more questions before jumping in. .
I am confused. Do you currently run a feedlot and slaughter-meat cutting business so you can directly deliver to the customer? If not then what to expect per pound by the cut is totally irrelevant. Of concern should be what you can get per pound at auction or selling to cattle buyers on hoof. Most slaughterhouses buy lots and prefer grain-fed unless they have a contract with someone like Costco for grass-fed ORGANIC raised beef. To qualify for organic you are getting into a lot of requirements that won't pay off unless you are a well-funded corporation.

If you are making a profit by feeding grain, then I would stay with that. Here is an interesting article to read. Also, the info posted by the above posters is totally correct.

 

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