Our guide to understanding the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef

In the steak lovers’ universe, it seems debate is endless when it comes to comparing all things beef. Is Angus or Wagyu beef the best? What’s the perfect amount of time to dry-age a steak? Is grass-fed or grain-fed beef better?

To help settle the score once and for all on grass-fed beef vs. grain-fed beef, we’re giving you all the facts right here.

Grain-fed vs. grass-fed beef: What’s the difference?

As you’ve probably already suspected, the major difference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef is what each type of cattle is fed.

In Australia, about 97% of cattle are raised on natural pastures and are considered grass fed. While the majority of the cattle’s feed is made up of grass, they may also be fed grain to supplement their diet when pastures are poor. Different breeds of cattle, as well as seasonal changes, can influence the style and quality of beef produced as a result of being 100% grass fed. You can often tell when beef is grass-fed by the slight yellow hue of the fat. This colouring is a result of the pigments in the grass, and doesn’t impact the quality of the beef.

To be classified as grain-fed beef, cattle must be fed a grain-based diet for 60 days or more. Many grain-fed beef farmers in Australia choose to raise cattle on a grass-based diet and then feed them a diet of wheat, barley or sorghum for a 60-day period. Beef from grain-fed cattle tends to have whiter fat with more marbling throughout as a result of the higher sugar and fat content of the grain-based diet.

How does grass-fed and grain-fed beef differ in flavour?

Many beef lovers argue that grass-fed beef offers a more nuanced and complex flavour profile, likely as a result of the varied pastoral diet of the beef. However, the controlled feeding environment and increased marbling from intramuscular fat delivers a more buttery taste with grain-fed beef.

Deciding whether grain-fed beef or grass-fed beef tastes better is really a personal choice. If you like a deep and complex beef flavour, you’ll probably prefer a grass-fed steak. On the other hand, if you If you like your meat to be well-marbled, you’re more likely to enjoy the flavour of grain-fed beef.

Is grass-fed or grain-fed beef more nutritious?

One final factor to consider in the grain-fed vs. grass-fed debate is nutrition. Both grain-fed and grass-fed beef are a highly concentrated source of nutrients like vitamins B12, B3 and B6, iron, selenium and zinc.

However, when comparing the two types of beef, grass-fed beef tends to be much higher in vitamin A, vitamin E and other antioxidants. Grass-fed beef is also usually leaner, so it may be a healthier choice overall depending on the cut of steak you choose.

Whether you prefer grass-fed beef or grain-fed beef, it’s a good idea to choose steak that comes from a reputable local supplier, so you can be sure of the providence and quality of the meat you’re eating.

At Butcher and the Farmer, we work with trusted Australian meat purveyors to ensure the utmost quality in every cut of steak we serve. Try our delicious steak for yourself by booking a table at Butcher and the Farmer.


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