Frequently Asked Questions
What is grass-fed?
The American Grassfed Association defines grass-fed products from ruminants, including cattle, bison, goats and sheep, as those food products from animals that have eaten nothing but their mother’s milk and fresh grass or grass-type hay from birth to harvest – all their lives. They are also raised with no confinement and no antibiotics or hormones, and must be born and raised in the U.S. For grass-fed non-ruminants, including pigs and poultry, grass is a significant part of their diets, but not the entirety of their diets, since these animals need to consume grains.
What does “non GMO” mean?
GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding. GMOs have numerous negative effects on animal and consumer health. Saddle Ridge Farm does not use feed containing GMOs.
What is the difference between meat from the grocery store and meat from the farm?
Grass-fed beef is a very different product from the beef normally sold in American grocery stores. The meat sold in grocery stores come from cattle penned up in large feedlots where they are confined, fed grains, treated with hormones and given antibiotics, all to promote fast weight gain and prevent disease that is so prevalent in this unnatural environment.
Grass-fed beef, on the other hand is finished on natural pasture – a diet that provides them what nature intended. Cattle are ruminants; they have multiple stomachs and are very efficient converting the cellulose in grasses to protein (meat). The resulting products are more flavorful and contain more beta-carotine, vitamin E, and Omega-3 fatty acids than their traditional counterparts.
Where are your animals processed?
We process broiler chickens every two weeks here on the farm, in their natural environment. Feel free to stop by the farm to observe! Beef and pork are sent to a local processor and are transported in a low stress environment.
Are you organic?
The short answer: no, we are not “certified organic”; we feel it is cost-prohibitive and we would farm this way label or no label. A simple response is–Why stop at being certified organic? There is so much more that can be accomplished outside the realm of organic certification. We feel that our practices go even beyond the certification process requirements: “beyond organic” if you will. We’re more than happy to show you our fields and our practices. Come by the farm and see for yourself!
Are the animals treated well?
We think so. We treat the animals with the utmost respect. We strive to honor them, and their lives, and never lose sight of the gifts they give us. All the animals are raised in a stress free environment. They live in group settings, able to socialize and fraternize with each other. We never use force or pain to manipulate them. Happy animals are tasty animals, and our animals are as happy as they come!
The Skinny on Grass-Fed Beef
A young checkout clerk asked, "So, what is grass-fed beef?" Hearing the short answer—meat from cows that eat only grass—he looked surprised. "I thought all cows just ate grass."
All cows do graze on pasture for the first six months to a year of their lives, but most finish at a feedlot on a concentrated mix of corn, soy, grains, and other supplements, plus hormones and antibiotics. This growth-spurt formula is the backbone of a hugely productive U.S. beef industry. A feedlot cow can grow to slaughter weight up to a year faster than a cow fed only forage, grass, and hay. "That's one year that you don't have to feed the cows in the feedlot," notes Eatwild.com founder Jo Robinson, who spent the past decade examining scientific research comparing grass-fed and grain-fed animals. "Conventional factory meat is so cheap because they've done everything to speed growth and lower the cost of feed."
The feedlot process not only speeds the animal to slaughter weight but also enhances fat marbling, which is one factor that determines a cut of beef's USDA rating—the more fat within the red meat, the richer the taste, the higher the grade. Most supermarket beef is Choice, which is one step below Prime, the top grade typically found in steak houses.
Boosting fat levels changes the nutritional composition of the meat, of course, and, from a health point of view, not for the better. A study by researchers at California State University in Chico examined three decades of research and found that beef from pasture-raised cows fits more closely into goals for a diet lower in saturated fat and higher in "good fats" and other beneficial nutrients. Grass-fed beef is lower in calories, contains more healthy omega-3 fats, more vitamins A and E, higher levels of antioxidants, and up to seven times the beta-carotene.