What is the difference between grass fed and grain fed beef?

With so many choices, buying beef can be confusing. Grass Fed, Grain Fed or Wagyu? We're here to help you decode and help you buy the best!

According to Meat & Livestock Australia(MLA), Australian beef are primarily pasture-fed and some may feed on grain-based diets in the last few days depending on climatic conditions and product specifications.

Ruminants convert the alpha-linolenic acid found in grasses into long chain omega-3 fatty acids and levels found in Australian beef are largely determined by the quality of the pasture.

Grassfed meat comes from animals that have only grazed on grass. They feed on a range of different types of grasses, depending on climate and region. In Australia, cattle and sheep are predominantly grassfed and account for, on average, approximately two-thirds of overall beef and sheepmeat production.

Grainfed meat comes from animals which are fed grass for most of their lives and then transition to grain-based diets for the remainder of their lives. The number of days during which they are fed a grain-based diet varies.

Is there a difference in flavour between grain fed and grass fed?

Grass fed beef is hailed for its delicious flavour and texture. In a pastured environment the cow’s diet will vary according to season, rainfall and access to different types of forage, which will thus impact the flavour of the meat and create more variation. This is embraced by some as a sign of nature at play, however, grain fed beef has grown in popularity, particularly in the hospitality sector, due to its consistency of flavour and quantity.

Grain fed beef often achieves more marbling and a slightly smoother texture.

Sources: 
Good Meat. 2021. Grassfed and grainfed. [online] Available at: <https://www.mlahealthymeals.com.au/faqs/grassfed-and-grainfed/#> 
Sustainable Table Australia. 2021. Beef.. [online] Available at: <https://sustainabletable.org.au/all-things-ethical-eating/beef/> 

 


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