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American Grass Fed Beef Newsletter

November, 2003
Circulation 17,772

Welcome to the latest issue of the American Grass Fed Beef Newsletter. In this issue, you will find the following:

* Question for Dr. Whisnant
* J Scott Wilson Meatloaf Recipe
* Christmas Shopping Tip


QUESTION:  What do you feed your cattle in the winter?  Do you supplement with any grain during cold weather?

We are often asked this question and I do commend your inquiry.  It always pays to check out your food supplier.  

Technically, almost all cattle are "grass fed" and "free range" for a portion of their lives. However, the majority are "finished" in feedlots where they are raised in confinement and switched to a grain-based diet for fast weight gain.  Most supermarket cattle are treated with hormones, feed additives, and antibiotics to boost their productivity levels and to minimize the health problems that come from eating an unnatural diet in stressful conditions.

Cleverly worded phrases like "finished with minimal grain" sound benign and it is important to inquire as to the management protocol used by any producer. We are always glad to share how we raise our cattle.

Like most grass farmers we finish the majority of our beef within the growing season of our native grasses.  In southern Missouri, we have an abundance of cool season grass (fescue) and this usually allows us to have growing grass until the temperatures dip down consistently into the upper 30's or low 40's at night.  As I write this in mid-November we are still rotating on green native grass.  The weather this fall has been great for grass growth and we anticipate having at least 8 weeks of fescue grass supply for our finishing herd.

Luckily for us, in Southern Missouri, our winters are relatively mild with snow and ice being rare.  Farms just 150-200 miles north of us have much harsher winters and more snow.  Our abundance of grass at this time (November) will be a godsend into the January and February winter.

We carry more animals to finish at the times of the year when the native grasses are producing. We try to finish as many as possible before the native grass is gone and we move our herd to winter pasture. Most other grass farmers do the same and hence the idea that grass fed beef is seasonal.

At, we want to market our beef direct to our customers all year long and not just the beef we have managed to store up in the freezer.  As a result, we plant winter pastures for our finishing herd that allows us to continue transporting our beef directly from green pasture to the processor. 

We utilize sustainable farming practices, such as a no-till drill, to plant these winter pastures in the early fall. This winter we have grown winter wheat grass and cold hardy oat grass for our cattle. These pastures are grown as grass and are grazed at the optimal nutritional height rather than growing to maturity and producing grain. Many of our health conscious customers juice wheat grass and are already aware that wheat grass is one of healthiest grasses for human and cows.

As I sit at the computer and write this newsletter, I can look out over some of this winter pasture and it looks like a sea of emerald green placed in the middle of the brown, rust, and gold of the Ozark fall season. Before placing animals on this grass, we will put up temporary fencing to allow us to manage the rotation in such a way to best utilize the grass for the optimal health of our herd.

This intensive rotational management involves giving the animals grazing areas each day large enough to meet their nutritional needs. Each day we rotate our herd to new fresh grass. By the time we rotate through all the grazing areas, the first areas will have had adequate rest and will have grown again to the optimal nutritional height. This process keeps our finishing herd fed through the winter until the cool season fescue begins growing again in the spring. None of our cows in our beef program are supplemented with grains.

Much is said in marketing beef about “free range” and little is known about intensive rotational grazing. Most consumers are unaware that true “free range” cattle tend to deplete their grazing areas unless they are constantly moved to new grazing areas and large ranges of prime year-round grasses would be impossible to maintain. 

Beef marketers don’t want to tell you about intensive rotational grazing on prime grazing fields because it is the most costly grazing method in terms of time and labor. Few ranchers and only the best grass ranchers practice this method.

When the rare winter storm comes through and delivers us a load of snow or ice, we do supplement even the finishing herd with alfalfa hay sun dried on our own grass farm and alfalfa haylage. We can produce our own hay but we actually pay a premium for alfalfa haylage. 

We hire crews with special equipment to cut our alfalfa in the peak growing season when we produce more grass then our cows can consume. They wrap the alfalfa in plastic for us while it is still wet. This causes the alfalfa to ferment and the animals consider it like candy! 

Alfalfa haylage maintains 90% of the nutrition of fresh grass and much of the natural moisture. The feeding of this supplemental alfalfa hay and haylage to the finishing herd rarely occurs and when it does usually lasts no more than 1-2 days at a time. 

We never treat our beef cattle with hormones, steroids or antibiotics. You can rest assured that you are receiving the healthiest gourmet grass fed beef available.


Last month's cast iron cooking tips for grass fed beef were such a hit that we asked National Food Editor, J Scott Wilson, to treat our readers to another of his favorite grass fed beef recipes.  His recipe follows:

When I make ground beef at home, I use only the best, leanest beef I can, and the folks at American Grass Fed Beef think the same way. Their ground beef, kabob cubes and stew meat are not the castoffs. These are good meat! In fact, you don't need to be afraid to rely on the flavor of the meat to carry your dishes off well. 

Ground beef is by far the most versatile of meats, from the classic American hamburger, to mom's meatloaf, to chili to … well, the list is endless.

If you're familiar with the high-heat cast iron method for pan-searing steaks, the same method will work wonders for your hamburgers. You'll get that perfect char-grilled crust on the outside while every bit of juice is kept in. 

Meatloaf, however, is probably the quintessential ground beef creation. Just like pot roast, there are countless recipes for it. There are tomato/no tomato debates, vegetable/no vegetable tussles and bitter feuds over such oddities as having a layer of spinach in the middle. The following recipe is an excellent, simple recipe that will produce a meatloaf anyone can enjoy. I've included an optional glaze recipe if you, like me, enjoy that sort of thing.


2 lbs. Grass-fed ground beef
¾ c. Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. ground cumin
¾ c. salsa (your preference)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients by hand, mixing very thoroughly. If mixture seems too dry or crumbly, add more salsa to increase moisture.

Shape mixture into a loaf and place in glass baking pan. There should be no need for a loaf pan here, although you can use one if you're a strict traditionalist.

Bake for approximately 90 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Glaze (optional)

½ c. catsup
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. Tabasco (or other hot sauce)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 ½ tbsp. Honey

Mix all ingredients together and baste loaf every 15 minutes after the first 10 minutes of cooking. Serve with extra glaze on the side for dipping and drizzling.

J Scott Wilson
Food Editor
Internet Broadcasting System


As Christmas shopping is already getting into full swing, a wonderful present for those on your gift list is healthy beef.  Many hard-to-buy-for folks would love to receive a gift certificate from American Grass Fed Beef.  Our gift certificates are individually printed on beautiful gift certificate paper and placed in envelopes.  We can mail these to your recipient bearing your name or mail them to you to be placed under the tree.

Let me share with you a great idea that one mother had last year.  She has two daughters in busy careers in two separate cities.  For Christmas last year, she used our buyer's club program to give each daughter a gift of 4 Tenderloin Filets to be delivered each month of the year 2003.  

I spoke with her at one point and commented on her great gift idea.  Her reply was, "A mother has to make sure her girls are eating right!"  As the year draws to an end, both the daughters have told us that the year of beef has been one of the best gifts they received.

Our buyer's club is one of our best values:

Patricia Whisnant, DVM
Grass Farmer and Veterinarian

P.S.  Feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends, clients and colleagues.

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