Our grass-fed beef and lamb are available late summer through fall each year. Many inquiring customers wonder why this is. This is a good and interesting question that I will explain why.
First of all, like vegetables and fruits, beef and lamb can and should be seasonal. Buying beef and lamb in season not only supports the natural life cycle of the animals, but it also improves flavor and texture.
Our cattle and sheep only feed on grass, minerals and salt. During the growing season our cattle and sheep are pastured on fields of perennials consisting of grass and legumes. In addition, annuals of peas, oats, barley, Sorghum Sudan grass, pearl millet, rye grass, brassicas, etc. During the winter months our cattle are fed 1300 lb. round bales of dry hay consisting of a mix mainly of grass, alfalfa and clover. Because we do not supplement high energy inputs, such as grain, silage and baleage, our cattle take longer to reach market/finish weight. Summer through fall is when the majority of weight is gained on our cattle and sheep. So, at the end of the growing season the animals that reach market weight are harvested and those that do not reach, are held until the next season.
People ask me why the hay does not make them fat during the winter. The hay keeps them in good condition which means they do not lose weight but does not produce the necessary weight gain for our cattle to be ready for harvesting. It is important to harvest beef and sheep while they are gaining weight on pasture to ensure good quality meat for our customers. Harvesting cattle and sheep in our management system during the winter months would produce an inferior product, loss flavor and tough meat. Market and consumers do not want and do not deserve it.
It is easy to identify and respect a serious and committed local farmer or producer because he will always be able to talk about the processes and programs he uses, how he works with the seasons, and why a product is available at certain times of the year.