Where is our meat sold and how is it packaged?
All of our products are sold through our online store for on-farm pickup. Our 100% grass fed beef is dry aged for tenderness and increased flavor. We use a local, low volume, high quality artisan butcher. All of our meat is cut, vacuum sealed in thick packaging, then flash frozen to preserve it at peak freshness. This packing allows for sous vide cooking. Our meat can also be found at local restaurants including Hawkeyes Country Tavern in Silverdale - ask for the Grass Fed Beef Burger!
What is 100% grass fed?
The purest definition of "100% grass fed beef" is meat from cattle that have never consumed any grains such as corn or soybean meal. This is often referred to as grass finished. Our calves are raised on our farm eating only their mother’s milk and grass. They are weaned after 8-9 months, and are finished cattle at 24-30 months. In the warm months, the herds graze hundreds of acres of lush green pastures while in the winter months, the cattle are fed nutrient dense hay that we produce throughout the spring and summer. We utilize a method called "rotational" or "intensive" grazing. It simply means that we move our herds every single day to fresh pasture. This is good for both the cattle and fields, as they quickly consume most grasses, while at the same time trampling under some plants and manure for increased organic matter. It typically takes about 1 month for a herd to complete the rotation through a certain tract of land, allowing plenty of time for any harmful organisms in the soil to die off before the cattle return and giving the pastures time to become lush and thick with highly nutritious grasses once again.
What do the cows eat?
A cow is a ruminant who naturally only forages on grass, legumes, and plant matter. They instinctively know what plants hold the vitamins needed for their diet. We offer a free choice mix of organic minerals and salt at all times.
Is there a nutritional difference between 100% grass fed beef and the typical commodity beef that is fed grain?
Absolutely! Grass fed/grass finished 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 grain finished beef. (Michael Pollan)
How do you care for your pastures?
Primary fertilization is accomplished by grazing animals, as their manure is naturally incorporated into the soil. 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 as needed. Pastures are continually monitored for a healthy balance of legumes (ie. clover, alfalfa) which return nitrogen to the soil. During the early spring frost, we might seed red and white clover 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 ever used on our pastures or hay fields.
What breed are the cattle on Tussock Sedge Farm?
The cows are Red Angus. 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 typically calf in the spring and summer for year round finished beef.
Do you feed growth hormones and antibiotics?
No, we never feed 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 need of treatment, it will receive homeopathic or holistic care from the farm manager. If the illness is contagious (ie. pink-eye), the animal will be quarantined. Moving frequently to fresh pasture though, keeps our animals consistently healthy.
What environmental improvements have you done on your farm?
With the partnership of the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Services, we have restored a large amount of acreage to natural wetlands, no longer allowing grazing animals in those areas and instead, planting many native shrubs and trees. This serves to slow rainwater runoff by forming several dams and silt collection basins. This land supports an increasingly diverse habitat of insects, amphibians, birds and predators. We have installed many 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. Most of our pastures have been terraced and contoured to prevent erosion by containing run-off. We also have planted more than 2000 native trees as a buffer along the streams and waterways. All of this work attracts more native wildlife and ensures that we are doing our part to keep the waterways pristine.
Does grass fed beef taste good?
Yes! This is what beef is supposed to taste like! Grass fed beef has a deeper, richer flavor since cattle require longer time to finish on grass. The flavor is sweet and nutty and takes on the 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. Cook roasts in a crockpot on low 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, lard, coconut oil, or bacon fat to do so. Steaks should be cooked hot and fast to a perfect medium rare or medium. The reverse sear method is our preferred way of preparing a steak.