What is 100% grass fed beef?
The purest definition of 100% grass fed beef is from cattle that have never consumed any grains such as corn or soybean meal. Our calves are raised on our farm only eating their mother’s milk and grass. They are weaned after 8-9 months, and are finished cattle at 20-24 months. In the winter months the cattle are fed haylage and dry hay. When they reach the weight of 1150-1200 lbs, they are ready for market.
Are Tussock Sedge Farm cattle 100% grass fed?
Yes! The calves are born on our farm and graze with their mothers for 8-9 months. In the winter, our cattle are fed haylage and dry hay and are not given any grain or grain by-products in their diets. Organic minerals and salt are always available to our cattle.
What do the cows eat?
A cow is a ruminant foraging only on grass, plant matter, and hay, selecting their diet with the precision of a nutritionist. They instinctively know what plants hold the vitamins needed for their diet. We offer an organic mix of minerals and salt they can lick whenever they choose throughout their life on the farm. Watching cows eat often one can observe them crossing the field side by side like a lawn mower. Most often they are nicely scattered over the field eating the lush green grasses and legumes.
Can cattle eat some grain & still be called grass fed?
No, an animal is either 100% grass-fed or not. Yes, all cattle, being ruminants, need forage to balance their rumen.
Is there a nutritional difference between grass and grain fed beef?
Grass fed beef contains less total fat and less saturated fats than the same foods from grain fed animals. Pastured animals contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that some recent studies indicate may help reduce weight and prevent cancer, and which is absent from traditionally raised grain-finished cattle. Grass finished beef has a two-to-one ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 compared to a more than ten-to-one in grained-finished beef. (Michael Pollan)
Why should I care a whole lot about buying 100% grass fed beef?
Many of our customers acknowledge they prefer to buy locally-raised product they can see, and are reassured of the good care they observe. Most of our nations’ food travels 1500 miles to reach us, adding cost to the product and spending fossil fuels. Animal welfare and environmental care for the land as well as the health factors (see “nutritional differences between grass fed and conventional fed cattle”) are the driving force to buy grass fed beef.
How is grass-fed beef pasturized?
We rotate our grass fed beef nearly every day, through 2-4 acre paddocks of mixed grasses and legumes, providing a high energy diet natural to grazing ruminants. This simulates the natural movement of predator-driven herds on the plains. Cows don’t enjoy lingering in their feces and the large numbers of flies that gather, and readily move on seeing their herdsman/woman move the wire to change paddocks. We maintain a minimal grass height of 4” to maintain strong root development, and we manage the number of animals on the acreage to prevent over-grazing. This kind of small paddock-based grazing is often referred to as “mob grazing”. Interestingly, the natural agitation of the hooves on the grass and the scattering of manure naturally controls weeds and fertilizes the pastures.
How do you care for your pastures?
Primary fertilization is by cattle grazing. All fields are tested every three years for PH and residual Phosphate and Potassium as well as multiple nutrients and organic matter. Manure, as well as compost made from leaves, mulch hay and cow manure bed pack, is spread on the fields to enhance the plant growth. Lime and potash are also supplied to our fields to enhance growth. Pastures are continually monitored for balance of legumes which return nitrogen to the soil and percentage of grass mixes. During the early spring frost, we might seed red and white clovers if needed. Since we have begun rotational grazing, our pastures have improved remarkably from 1-2% Organic matter to now 4-7% organic matter. No herbicides are used on pastures. Weeds like bull thistles are rigorously hand dug while moving cattle and observing the fields.
What breed are the cattle on Tussock Sedge Farm?
The cows are Red Angus and are bred by Red Devon Bulls. Both are good beef breeds known for their outstanding quality meat. Breeding two purebred strains together offers a growth enhancement – or heterosis – yielding faster growing, healthier stock. All the offspring of this crossbred F-1 stock are raised for meat and not kept for breeding stock. All calves are produced by natural breeding on our farm and not sourced from open markets. We have a “closed” herd to control health and avoid introducing disease from outside sources.
When are calves born?
We calf in March and April, as well as in August and September for year round finished beef.
Do you use growth hormones or prophylactic antibiotics?
No, we do not use prophylactic antibiotics, growth stimulants, or hormones.
How do you treat illness?
We observe and closely watch for any illness while rotating herds. If an animal is in poor health, it will receive treatment from the farm manager. If the illness is contagious (e.g. pink-eye), the animal will be quarantined. Moving more frequently to fresh grass is a good remedy for some illness. For humane care of our animals we will offer an antibiotic if needed.
What environmental improvements have you done on your farm?
With the partnership of the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Services, we restored 26 acres of land to its natural wetland form. This also serves to slow runoff by forming several dams and silt collection basins. This land supports an increasingly diverse habitat of insects, amphibians, birds and predators. Our friend, an avid birder, installed and maintains blue bird boxes and barn owl boxes for nesting across our seven farms, most of which are used annually to raise a new generation of chicks. All of our historic barns have had modern drainage installed so that manure and nutrients do not enter the nearby streams. Most of our pastures have been terraced and contoured to prevent erosion by containing run-off. We also have planted more than 1000 native trees as a buffer along the streams and waterways.
Does grass fed beef taste good?
Grass fed beef has a deeper or richer beef flavor since cattle require longer time to finish on grass. It also has less fat than grain-fed beef. The flavor is sweet and nutty and takes on unique flavor of the farm on which it is raised.
Do you cook grass fed beef differently?
Grass fed beef should be treated more gently than conventional beef because the fat is more finely grained and there is less of it. Using lower heat and longer cook times are most important, as this will not dry out the meat or over-cook it. For example, Cook roasts in a crockpot on low or warm settings, or in a very low heat oven for many hours. If you choose to braise grass fed beef prior to cooking it, use extra fat in the pan like butter or duck fat to do so. Steaks should be cooked at a high temperature until medium or medium-rare this allows the outside of the steak to sear and hold in all the delicious juices. We recommend doing a search for recipes online.
Where can I buy Tussock Sedge Farm beef? How do you market your beef?
Tussock Sedge Farm has a website and a farm market where we sell our product. A Sampler or ⅛ of Beef can be ordered in advance and picked up on Saturday or by arrangement via email. Thursday’s 1pm-4pm and Saturdays 10am-2pm we are open for sales by the piece or by the pack. Down to Earth Café in Perkasie serves our 6 oz. patties. Others are Doylestown Food CoOp, Blooming Glen CSA, Anchor Run CSA, and Plumsteadville Inn.
Do you sell Sides and Quarters of beef?
No. The largest pack we sell is ⅛ Packs of Beef. By selling smaller packs we are able to serve more customers.
Where can I buy Tussock Sedge Farm beef? How do you market your beef?
Tussock Sedge Farm has a website and a farm market where we sell our product. A Sampler or ⅛ of Beef can be ordered in advance and picked up on Saturday or by arrangement via email. Thursday’s 1pm-4pm and Saturdays 10am-2pm we are open for sales by the piece or by the pack. Down to Earth Café in Perkasie serves our 6 oz. patties. Others are Doylestown Food CoOp, Blooming Glen CSA, Anchor Run CSA, and Plumsteadville Inn.
Where do you slaughter your beef?
Smucker’s Meats in Mount Joy, PA is a clean and respectful facility that slaughters all of our marketed beef. Our beef is dry aged for 7-10 days and processed and frozen to contain nutrient value.
Are you organic?
We are not certified organic at this point in time, although many of our practices are congruent with organic practices.