We raise just under 100 cattle on pasture year round, including mother cows, calves, and yearlings. They are a mix of conventional breeds (Hereford, Angus, and Ghevich) that we have been crossing with our Scottish Highland bull to produce a smaller, more efficient grass-feeding animal. We have been very happy with this combination. We also have a personal dairy herd of six Jerseys.
Forage: The cattle graze on 160 acres of native grasses, rye and clover. After the winter rains, the new grass growth is lacking in nutrition, so sometimes we supplement our herd with hay (categorized as grass by grass-fed standards) and continue until the spring grasses emerge, usually in late March.
The meat: Our beef are 18-24 months at harvest. We wait to harvest until they have put on a nice layer of fat from the spring “flush,” when they gain 2-5 lbs. a day on the lush grass. We will usually begin harvest in mid-May. After slaughter, we instruct the butcher to let the beef hang two to three weeks depending on the individual beef’s age and fat. Hanging develops the flavor and tenderness of the meat. The butcher checks daily and decides when the carcass is ready to cut.
We raise a few pastured/milk-fed veal next to their mommas on pasture, so they are recieving milk and grass. This makes them “red veal,” not the “white veal” of confined animals. The meat from the veal calves is exquisite — tender and flavorful — and our favorite. We harvest a few veal every season at 5 to 8 months of age to keep our numbers down in the herd and to protect our pastures from being overgrazed. Our beef have been very prolific! The veal is priced higher than the beef because of that same veal calf in one year’s time would yield a carcass value that is double or triple that of the calf.