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Grass Fed vs Corn Fed -- whats your preference and why

boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,273
edited February 2012 in EggHead Forum

This was mentioned in an earlier topic - peaked my interest.  Was in an intense discussion with a family member the other night discussing the topic ( jeeeeeeez I must lead a boring life ).

What do you prefer?   Why?

Interested since a) I love beef   b) grew up raising beef   c) always learning something new

Cookin in Texas


  • I dont think I've ever had grass fed beef. I'd like to try it.
    Be careful, man! I've got a beverage here.
  • IrishDevlIrishDevl Posts: 1,390
    Grass fed to lean, grain fed for me keeps them fat and happy.
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,829
    I can't quite answer, because my experience with grass-fed is pretty limited. What I've had tastes better. Or maybe just the difference in taste makes it a pleasant surprise. The flavor from each of the 3 places I've had it from was slightly different in each case. I guess the flavor must be influenced some by what is growing in the pastures.

    I will agree that there is less fat, and the meat seems a little tougher. I know some people I've spoken with have been disappointed by steaks because they were not tender enough. On the other hand, for portions that are tough anyway, like chuck, I'll go with the grass fed.

    Supposedly, grass fed is marginally healthier than corn fed.
  • boatbum, like you I grew up with cattle but as for grass fed beef, unless it is a new born suckling, I lean toward corn fed beef.  
    I think it is more texture than taste, although there is a real difference in taste between the two.  The grass fed that I have purchased at the farmer's market has more chew (not tough) and has more of a "cow taste".  Sorry that is not very scientific but that is the only way I can describe the taste (think of the smell of the pastured cattle and sweet smell of early morning grass).

    Large, small and mini now Egging in Rowlett Tx
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 22,716
    only time i see grass fed beef is in the fancy supermarkets with the fancy packaging, and the cuts are too small to properly cook. would rather go to the butcher, pay less and get a properly cut 1.5 inch steak with nice marbling.
  • IrishDevlIrishDevl Posts: 1,390
    I don't mind grass fed, but would prefer grain fed first.  My butcher had some grass fed veal chops that I really liked though.
  • I've had lots of grass fed lamb. Mostly in other countries where no one feeds their livestock seeds. (something, with the exception on pigs, they were not designed to eat)

    I like the grass fed lamb better than corn fed. I think I'll go get some grass fed beef for this weekend.
    Be careful, man! I've got a beverage here.
  • IrishDevlIrishDevl Posts: 1,390
  • Both.  I like grass fed for the loin cuts, especially tenderloin, and grain fed for the marbled cuts.  Thankfully, I have access to both.  My future bro in-law raises grass fed longhorns, and my future sis in-law's family raises grain fed angus. 
    XL BGE - Large BGE - Small BGE - Traeger Lil' Tex Elite - Weber Smokey Joe
  • boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,273

    Part of this also gets into the "Black Angus" mystique.   You will see Angus marketed as a "high end" beef product.   Personally - I just chalked that up to an aggressive marketing campaign by the Angus Breeders Association.

    I have a family member that has be kicking around the idea of what he calls "Custom Gourmet Feeding".  You pick ( or he will) your steer.  Then work with him to determine how you want it fed and finished.  Grass, Corn, etc.   Once finished, goes to a local processing plant, cut the way you want it - and you have all the beef you can eat for a while.

    Thats actually not a new concept - it goes on out there.   I have seen it advertised before.

    Cookin in Texas
  • LitLit Posts: 6,846
    As previosly mentioned grass fed meat has much more beef flavor. I spent some time reading about how much of a crock our meat rating system is and how it only relates to the marbling. From what I read it is easy to get alot of marbling just feed the cow lots of corn and it gets fat fast but the meat has little flavor. I found alot of articles about this when I was researching to find a local grass fed meat source. They did taste tests where they took prime cuts of meat that were corn fed and a grass fed steak with little marbling that wouldn't even be rated as choice and the taste testers chose the grass fed meat almost everytime as the better meat. Its going to vary between people also though because I love the strong meat flavor but my fiance thinks its too much. My fiancee got me a couple natural Wagyu tri tips and a couple natural prime ribeyes from here for my birthday and they were amazing but for the price I would just go to the butcher and settle for something inbetween. If I could find a good local place to get natural beef I would eat it all the time.
  • I've cooked many grain fed steaks but only 2 grass fed.  My opinion echoes what others have said about the grass fed beef being more beef flavored.  I thought it was the best tasting steak I've ever cooked and am considering buying part of a cow.  For my grain of salt, though, my wife thought the steaks were good but thinks I'm a bit batty when I talk about buying it on a regular basis.
  • GrannyX4GrannyX4 Posts: 1,479
    I was visiting relatives in Oklahoma and the little town of Hominy has a real meat market. They process the cows and the smell of the beef is just like Austin Egghead said. We can't even come close to that type of beef here in Florida at any price. What ever I cook in Ok cannot be duplicated here. Grass feed beef all the way.
    Every day is a bonus day and every meal is a banquet in Winter Springs, Fl !
  • I live in the Sandhills of Nebraska - God's cow country.  I have cattle of my own.   Corn tastes better, grass is better for you - and virtually ANY beef from Nebraska is better than the best from anyplace else.    Take that to the bank.
  • Village IdiotVillage Idiot Posts: 6,958
    edited February 2012
    and virtually ANY beef from Nebraska is better than the best from anyplace else.    Take that to the bank.
    From a Native Texan.  "Git a rope"

    Dripping Springs, Texas.
    Just west of Austintatious

  • GrannyX4GrannyX4 Posts: 1,479
    Yep, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and don't forget Kansas have very good beef. I would like some of it in the Sunshine State. ;;)
    Every day is a bonus day and every meal is a banquet in Winter Springs, Fl !
  • Beef fed on sweet garss and grain no CORN. if you can find local breeders go for it. It cost more but the returns are so much better

    Living the good life in MACDonna
  • boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,273
    What grain are you referring to - if not corn?
    Cookin in Texas
  • Barley, oats, malted barley, sweet farina, husk with molasses, but not much corn unless you know who grew it?
    Living the good life in MACDonna
  • There is a docu film King Corn if you can find it watch it.
    Living the good life in MACDonna
  • Hi54puttyHi54putty Posts: 1,872
    I have had a lot of both and prefer grass fed. My wife and I are getting ready to buy half a cow (for the first time) and were debating the merits of each. We will most likely go with grass fed which seems to be more expensive here in NC.
    Winston-Salem, NC 
  • The reason it is more expensive in the South, is we care more for the beef and pork. We just don't grow what we don't want to eat. KNow your grower, he or she will show you the light of great meat.
    Living the good life in MACDonna
  • bboulierbboulier Posts: 547
    I grew up in rural Nebraska and most beef then was grass fed.  I still like the taste of grass fed beef better.
    Weber Kettle, Weber Genesis Silver B, Medium Egg, KJ Classic (Black)
  • One more thing if you can find a grower who will work with you on every aspect of the cycle from calf to freezer you'll be much better and the taste you never go back to Publix, Ingles, Winn Dixie or any other store. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

    Living the good life in MACDonna
  • Hi54puttyHi54putty Posts: 1,872
    I do "know my grower" and he is "feeding one out" for me...whatever that means. It is all very interesting and new to me. Certainly a change from just running by the store and grabbing whatever looks good.
    Winston-Salem, NC 
  • You'll love the meat I am sure.

    Living the good life in MACDonna
  • boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,273

    Well, not sure I am sold on the concept of "look your meat in the eye".   Understand, I grew up with naming steers in the lot where we were feeding them out "Hamburger", "Ribeye", or "Sirloin".   Been there done that.   Yep, I have helped with dressing a beef from the shot in the head, to loading the sides in the back of the pickup to take to the local butcher to cut up for our freezer.

    Too many people get caught up with the concept - unless you are totally just into organics ( and by the way, you should really know what your getting before you pay extra for organic) - I just dont see it.

    The issue is Genetics.   You can take 100 random steers, feed them all the same - they will not all grade out the same.   When in a local grow situation, Your sample size is too low to garantee consistent traits handed down to the calves.  Its a math issue. You will get very good meat, you will feel good about it -- however - if your steer happened to be choice ( or heaven forbid - select ) instead of prime - gosh you have a lot of meat to go through.

    It's so much a personal preference. I prefer Prime for most cuts.   I am going to buy the best cut of meat I can find.   I don't want a mixture of several hundred pounds of all grades.

    It can be much more economical - and for many cuts, being Prime may not help that much.  Doubt it matters for short ribs that are going to braise for a few hours.   I do think it does for Brisket.

    Can you look at a steer on the hoof and tell if it is going to grade out Prime cuts?  No, you can't.   Lot of indications that it will be good - but in the end, till its cut open - you just don't know.

    Working over time with packer yield sheets, agressive culling, and intensive management a producer can increase % of Prime production, but never reach 100%.

    I say all this, cause some people may be reading this and thinking - I need to find a local source.   Just adding to keep your eyes open.   All I am saying is be careful with that concept.   I mentioned above a family member that is thinking about getting into that business.   Will I buy from him?  No.  I don't eat that much beef, but what I eat I want to be really good.

    I haven't eaten a tremendous amount of Grass Fed beef.   But one of the points mentioned above was the richness of flavor.   I have always associated marbling with flavor - but this is making me want to try some grass fed.

    One of the questions I was looking for when starting this was - Am I missing something not eating more Grass Fed beef?   Have seen enough that I need to try some more grass fed for the flavor.

    The challenge I think - is that the USDA grading system is heavily oriented towards marbling - so - tougher to find Prime graded grass fed.    So is it apples to apples?

    In the end, we all buy and eat what WE individually like.

    Just my opinion.

    Cookin in Texas
  • I too love grass fed beef. It is hard to garde beef on the hoof? I have known a few ole timers who can do it with prefection. Back in the days of local cattle yards which by the way a lot of counties in the south still have. The ole timers can look and tell what they are buying. Because they know everyone and they know what they raise.  I still know families who butcher pork and beef in the fall and can all of the vegies they grow. The good loe days are still alive in WNC.
    Located in Western North Carolina
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,829
    Boatbum has a bunch of good points in his post. Specially about the quality from small producers. Here is one small story. My daughter-in-law's family has a small herd they let graze across the farm. Their steaks taste wonderful, if a little tough. The Dad's opinion is that "They're good enough for us, but I wouldn't sell them."

    For me, it has come down to eating cuts that are not steaks. As boatbum mentions:

    "The challenge I think - is that the USDA grading system is heavily
    oriented towards marbling - so - tougher to find Prime graded grass
    fed. "

    If I'm looking for shank or neck bones, I'm not much concerned with marbling.  Those cuts will have more  flavor from any animal. But the grass fed ones have the edge. Don't know why. Pork fat improves from what the pig eats, but beef? Maybe the flavor goes into the meat. Don't know.

    Maybe its a matter of "If you want a steak, look for an animal that has been bred for fat, and given lots of grain. If you want a great stew, look for an animal that grazed over fertile pastures, and is ready for a long winter with less."
  • I gave grass fed beef an honest try but I stopped buying it. It is tough and flavorless, IMO.

    If I want a lean burger, I buy buffalo:

    Buffalo Burgers
    I'm Kristi ~ Live in FL ~ BGE since 2003.
    I write about food & travel on Necessary Indulgences.  
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