Grass vs. Grain: Fed vs. Finished

Grass Fed Cattle

When it comes to beef, it can be confusing to know what to buy based on the labels. Grass-fed is good, right? And what about feed made from grains? We break it down and point you to some helpful resources to learn more.

What The Terms Mean

  • Fed versus finished: “Fed” refers to what cattle eat for the majority of their lifespan. “Finished” refers to their diet in the last few months.
  • Grass-fed: All cattle in Kansas are grass-fed. In fact, they spend most of their lives grazing on pastureland.
  • Grass-finished: This means that cattle continue to graze on pasture grasses until they are harvested.
  • Grain-finished: This means cattle go to a feedlot where they are given a diet consisting largely of grains and other ingredients.

To make things even more confusing, beef can also be naturally raised and/or certified organic. Both grass- and grain-finished beef can be naturally raised and/or certified organic. Those particular designations mean they aren’t treated with antibiotics or growth hormones, and they must be certified by the USDA.

Some Interesting Facts

  • Grain-finished beef has a lower carbon footprint than grass-finished beef.
  • Grass-finished beef isn’t necessarily organic.
  • Grain-finished and grass-finished beef are comparable in their nutritional makeup.

So, which is better to buy? It’s up to you, your taste, and your wallet!

Want to Learn More?

Check out these resources:

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