The benefits of pasture raised livestock.
Sustainable agriculture rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs through the stewardship of both natural and human resources. Stewardship of the land and natural resources involves maintaining or enhancing resources for the long term, while stewardship of the human resource considers the social responsibility to rural communities and consumer health and safety for the present and the future. Environmentally, pasture-based/grass-fed systems are advantageous.
The land only carries as many animals as it can sustain, thereby reducing the buildup of pollutants. Animal waste is dropped onto the land where it is naturally recycled, providing nutrients for the fertilization of the pasture. In feedlots/confined space systems, animal waste builds up in enormous quantities and can be detrimental to the surrounding environment. This is a serious source of water and air pollution.
Pasture-raised/grass-fed livestock fit perfectly into a sustainable agriculture system. Animals are free to roam in their natural environment, where they can eat nutritious grasses and other plants that their bodies are adapted to digest. They are also able to display all the natural behaviors inherent to them. In addition to dramatically improving the welfare of farm animals, pasturing also helps reduce the environmental damage and yields meat and eggs that are tastier and more nutritious than food produced in intensive farming systems.
Animal health benefits.
Animals raised on pasture enjoy a much higher quality of life than those confined in intensive industrial farms. When raised on open pasture, animals can move around freely and carry out their natural behaviors. This lifestyle is impossible to achieve on intensive industrial farms, where thousands of animals are crowded into confined facilities. Not only does the crowding in confined space systems restrict movement and behavior it also increases the likelihood of disease. Animals raised in these systems are routinely treated with sub-therapeutic antibiotics to prevent outbreaks of disease.
You don't have to be an animal rights activist to appreciate that keeping animals in confined spaces and the consequences of doing so is contrary to the responsibility of raising livestock in a safe and humane fashion. Grazing on pasture is especially beneficial for cattle because their bodies were developed to eat grass. The grasses and forages provide all they need without the need of supplementing with unnatural feed additives and byproducts. Highland cattle in particular, fit very easily into a pasture system as they are structurally built to handle forage and browse. The harsh environment of their ancestral home in the northern and western reaches of Scotland have naturally predisposed these animals to utilizing roughages to their fullest potential.
Human health benefits.
Grass-fed beef is healthier for the consumer. It is lower in both overall fat and saturated fat and has the added advantage of providing healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to our diet in much higher quantities than feedlot/corn-fed beef. Vitamin E and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), nutrients associated with reducing the risk of cancer, are also up to four times higher in grass-fed beef.
Traditionally all beef was grass-fed beef, but with the advent of industrialized farming systems where efficiency and profitability have replaced welfare and sustainability, corn-fed beef has taken over the beef found at your grocery store.
Today's commercial beef is 14-16 months old at slaughter. To achieve this growth from about 80 pounds at birth to 1,200 pounds at slaughter, today's animals are typically injected with growth hormones and are fed enormous amounts of corn. This along with restricted movement results in rapidly growing, fat animals. The consequences of this type of management metabolically are generally not seen because the animals are slaughtered at such a young age.
Pasture-raised/grass-fed beef is typically more expensive than corn-fed beef because it takes a longer time for the animal to reach it optimum weight and it takes more land for an individual farmer to raise grass-fed beef. Highland cattle raised on grass will typically finish between 24-36 months of age, with older animals still retaining the excellent characteristics of flavor and tenderness.
The Highlands at Gleann Brook Acres are pasture-raised and grass-fed bringing the benefits of both systems together to humanely produce healthy, happy, outstanding cattle and beef.