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Feed ingredients affecting beef flavour

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Jan 28, 2021 | 17:46 1 As I said, we fed out a group of Holstein steers since last May for freezer orders.

They had or have been on a full feed ground barley ration.

Yup, I got in trouble with acidosis a couple of times. Managed to come out of it with minimal after effects so far. The last 2 go out to the plant in 2 weeks - fingers crossed.

I upped the dry hay/oatlage content from 2 or 3 lbs per day to about 20% of ration and that seems to be keeping them on track again. Also went to a 40/60 barley and grain corn mixture.

But what I am very curious about is how much the change in ration will affect the final product. We will end up with some of each fed on the varying rations in our freezer.

So far we have had the most positive feedback on the barley fed from our customers - ever, bar none.

Even our oldest son who got a quarter said that the rib roast they had on the weekend was the best ever. Said he even ate the heavy marbled, fatty pieces. And coming from him, a chap who was always very picky about the meat on his plate, that was really something to hear.

So just wondering, has anyone else had opportunity to compare the resulting product from different feeding programs?

If this barley fed turns out to be the secret and consistent, we will sure be looking at doing it in the future. Reply With Quote
Jan 29, 2021 | 07:58 2 Well, the quality of the meat depends on the quality of the feed. The meat of cows fed with barley or corn is more tender and fatty. But the cows, which are randomly fed, have less tasty and juicy meat. It is a fact. Reply With Quote
Blaithin's Avatar Feb 2, 2021 | 11:23 3
Quote Originally Posted by Challenger007 View Post
Well, the quality of the meat depends on the quality of the feed. The meat of cows fed with barley or corn is more tender and fatty. But the cows, which are randomly fed, have less tasty and juicy meat. It is a fact.
I wouldn't say that. Less fatty in some cuts, but far from flavourless and dry. Unless you don't know how to cook.



Burnt, are you saying you'll have some animals from straight corn, straight barley and the 40/60 mix? I think it would be a great test to do a taste test on a lesser marbled piece. Like a round steak from each. Trim the fat off, slow cook them, see what the meat actually tastes like. Grain fed affects the fat of the animal, I'm unsure how much it affects the meat taste. It would be very interesting to hear those results. I've never had corn fed but the tales I've heard of the yellow fat and slight grittiness makes it sound less appealing than the white fat barley gives.

But in today's consumer market, the blander looking the food, the more consumers want it. Chicken, egg yolks, beef fat..... Less colour the better. So is it a visual appeal or a taste appeal? Reply With Quote
Feb 2, 2021 | 17:57 4 None on straight corn at this time.

Butchered some last fall that were straight barley fed for 150 days.. Bought them as finished, corn fed veal at 730 lbs. and slowly switched them over from shelled corn to the barley with a lot of hay for the first week.

What was remarkable was that without exception, the customers who got meat from those animals said it was like none they had ever had before - on flavor, tenderness, texture,

One customer had a family friend in for a meal, a chap that came from a fairly high profile rock band. The guest said it was the best roast beef he had ever tasted, soooo...

The last ones we butchered were on feed for the same days, same ration. Just picked the orders up yesterday, hung up 730 lbs, had steak from one of them last night and it really was awesome - tender, white fat, amazing flavor. And hamburger tonight - again, flavor, texture and retained a lot of juices when finished, very moist.

Best served without any condiments!!

2 left to go in a week. Now, these are the ones that I got into the most trouble with acidosis.

My own fault - moved them into another pen when I weaned our calves in November and forgot to leave sodium bicarb in front of them as before. Big mistake - in 2 or 3 weeks they backed off feed and a couple really lame with swollen hock joints, lost some condition before coming back. Those are the two left to go.

So the hay portion went up sharply and found that they preferred corn to barley, went to the mixed ratio.

So because of their history, it may not be a good comparison, but will be interesting to see if the change in ration for the last 45 days will be noticeable.

Just never done learning in this business!

I should add that the ones we just had butchered were on the mixed barley/corn ration for almost their last month also. So that amount didn't exactly wreck this meat!
Last edited by burnt; Feb 2, 2021 at 18:02.
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Feb 2, 2021 | 18:19 5 The financial side is just as sweet - calves cost about $900 coming in (740x$1.20). On grain for 150 days, about 7:1~ fc on first ones out, all feeds measured. Ground barley, bit of hay, 1.5lb/day 36% supplement.

Carcass weight on first ones about 700lbs from a 1300 lb. live weight over the scales.

Butchering cost just under $600.00 hd.

Selling this meat in quarters or halves for $4.25/lbs on hanging weight, cut and wrapped.

Hoping the positive customer feedback will help grow this nice little niche. Reply With Quote
Blaithin's Avatar Feb 2, 2021 | 18:52 6 Too bad you discovered the magic of barley finishing right when feed barley shot through the roof 😂 Reply With Quote
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  • Blaithin's Avatar Feb 3, 2021 | 20:15 7 Played with some round steaks today. Mainly because I wanted to use my Dutch Oven.

    Grass fed steer. 25ish months.


    Did a dry rub overnight. Recipe I tried out last weekend that I really liked.


    Browned it on the stovetop and added some onions.


    Cooked it at 250 for a few hours. A bit too well done, could have taken it out a little earlier, but first time doing it this way so now I know. Can’t even pick it up with my fingers, it just falls apart.


    Also easy to make great gravy this way. For some reason it is way better this way than doing it in the slow cooker.

    Grain finished makes great, quick cooking, high heat, steaks but oh boy, when you take these tougher cuts that have more flavour.... these are the cuts you can really play around with. Reply With Quote
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  • Feb 4, 2021 | 18:19 8
    Quote Originally Posted by Blaithin View Post
    Played with some round steaks today. Mainly because I wanted to use my Dutch Oven.

    Grass fed steer. 25ish months.


    Did a dry rub overnight. Recipe I tried out last weekend that I really liked.


    Browned it on the stovetop and added some onions.


    Cooked it at 250 for a few hours. A bit too well done, could have taken it out a little earlier, but first time doing it this way so now I know. Can’t even pick it up with my fingers, it just falls apart.


    Also easy to make great gravy this way. For some reason it is way better this way than doing it in the slow cooker.

    Grain finished makes great, quick cooking, high heat, steaks but oh boy, when you take these tougher cuts that have more flavour.... these are the cuts you can really play around with.
    Hmmmm never used a Dutch oven but a slow cooker is the best way to do the poorer roasts here. Usually make them into a beef dip that falls apart and super easy too. Nothing worse than a dried out overcooked roast from the oven.

    My wife is an amazing cook and it appears there’s others in the audience too🍀 Reply With Quote
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  • Blaithin's Avatar Feb 4, 2021 | 20:46 9
    Quote Originally Posted by woodland View Post
    Hmmmm never used a Dutch oven but a slow cooker is the best way to do the poorer roasts here. Usually make them into a beef dip that falls apart and super easy too. Nothing worse than a dried out overcooked roast from the oven.

    My wife is an amazing cook and it appears there’s others in the audience too🍀
    I usually just have myself to cook for so I like to experiment with stuff. I enjoy cooking however it’s nicer to test stuff on my female friends to see if it’s good to people other than me. Men whine too much 😂

    Last year I worked to cut carbs down so I eat mostly meat, dairy, and eggs. It’s meant I experiment more with meat recipes. Before it was baking... which I still play with but then I end up eating it so it’s less common now hah Reply With Quote
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  • Feb 6, 2021 | 20:25 10 Barley tends to have a whiter colored fat vs the yellower color with corn.

    Grass fed beef can be great also, just have to be careful the animals don’t get too old before they are finished. Aged animals typically have less tender prime cuts.

    A pellet grill is perfect for slow cooking tougher cuts at low temperatures. The smoke provides some safety from bacteria vs the same temperature in an oven. Reply With Quote
    Feb 8, 2021 | 18:13 11 Well, we had the first roast of beef from one of these barley feds yesterday and it certainly was everything that the reports were from our customers.

    Very tender, great flavor and a very fine-grained meat.

    Very happy with the product.

    And in other good news, the re-orders are coming in from those who got the first of this product last fall.

    As for the price of the barley, it was home-grown, so...

    After having grown a filed again for the first time in many years, I am thinking that it's cheaper to buy than to grow myself. This would be because the other cropping options around here have far better economics. Reply With Quote
    Mar 13, 2021 | 07:46 12 Well, after now hearing back from every one of the folks who got some of this beef from us, the verdict appears to be in and unanimous - barley-fed beef is the best!

    The comments are very consistent - unmatchable tenderness, very superior flavor to any they have ever had, moist in any form - steaks, roasts, hamburger.

    Even an actual chef who had some at the home of one of the recipients.

    We have fed these Holsteins up to 13-1400 lbs for years and sold the beef to many of the same customers for that time.

    So when they all come back independently with the same observations, and all reinforcing what we experienced on our own forks, I conclude that there is something to it. We had a guest at our table the other evening with cross-rib roast served and there wasn't much left of it with only 3 of us going to work on it.

    One change that it led to was that I don't put any condiments on my helping of beef, regardless of its form. And I love horseradish. :-)

    I don't know why it makes such a difference. But from this run, it appears that barley-fed makes better beef. Reply With Quote
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