Why Pasture-Raised and Grass-Fed?

“He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate- bringing forth food from the earth” Psalm 104:14


Here at Ciardullo Ranch our focus is animal and environmental welfare. Grass-fed, pasture-raised meat is significantly healthier (and tastier) than grain-fed, factory-farmed meat. We go against the grain and raise our cattle on quality pastures their entire lives, with plenty of room, fresh air, clean water, sunlight and, most importantly, lots and lots of love! They’re never given any hormones, antibiotics or GMOs and our grass is never ever treated with pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. 

 

About Grass-Fed

 Grass is much more than just food for ruminants like cattle and sheep. Grass is, in fact, the most important aspect in raising livestock. It’s the grass, not your local buying and selling market, that should dictate when you calve, breed and wean. Spring, summer, fall and winter present very different nutritional challenges to these animals which is why in nature they breed and calve when they do. Aligning the natural birthing and life cycle seasonally allows calves to be introduced to grass at the right time and helps ease the transition from their mothers milk.

 Equally important is what this means to you and your health.  Grass-fed beef contains omega-3 fats (the good kind) and much lower levels of omega-6 fats (the bad kind). Grass-fed meat is nutritionally exceptional to factory raised meat. 

 

Factory-Farmed Meat Vs. Pasture Raised Meat 

 Nobody likes the feeling of confinement—we get stir crazy, depression sets in and we desperately seek the sunshine, outdoor activities, and time with our friends and family. Nobody wants to be quarantined! Animals are no different. They need their space! CAFO’s, or concentrated feedlot operations sometimes called factory farms, are the standard method of raising large numbers of food animals like cows, pigs, turkeys and chickens. This happens in confined spaces where they are fed grain products which are not part of their normal diet and the majority of these grain and grain byproducts are grown with conventional methods (herbicides and pesticides). With this diet, inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids rise while the good omega-3 fats decrease. These livestock are often given growth hormones to get them to market faster. Because these animals are crowded, disease spreads, creating a need for more antibiotics to be administered. But these antibiotics don’t just disappear, they end up in our water, the soil and—yup, you guessed it—the meat people eat.  

 Animals raised on pastures like ours are generally healthier and under less stress than those raised in confinement. 

With acres of lush, open,  green pastures our cattle and sheep are free to live instinctively-to eat, play, drink fresh, cold water and nap when they please-the way God intended.  They are raised on pastures their whole life and are never given any grain, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides or herbicides. We rotate our animals-which mimics their natural migration pattern and limits their impact on the land. We choose the best processors, ones who continue to treat our animals humanely.  So, from the  beginning  until the end our animals are loved and cared for. Tenderness goes a long way-you’ll taste the difference! 


Health Benefits of Grass-Fed:

 “Three decades of research have shown that grass-fed beef and pasture-raised meat are significantly healthier than grain-fed, factory-farmed meat.” -Food What the Heck Should I Eat, Mark Hyman, MD 

 Grass-fed and pasture raised meat is healthier than grain-fed, with higher levels of good omega-3 fats and lower levels of omega-6 fatty acids. Studies have shown that grass-fed meat is lower in calories and total fat and are packed with essential nutrients including B and E vitamins and the antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione-a powerful cancer-fighting agent also found in fresh vegetables. Grass-fed beef also contains higher levels of beneficial minerals like potassium, phosphorus, zinc and iron. Forty percent of the fat in beef is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat-the same kind that are found in olive oil, seafood and nuts. Grass-fed meat also contains a naturally occuring trans-fat called CLA or conjugated linoleic acid- a powerful antioxidant that prevents plaque from forming on arteries, reduces  the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, lowers triglycerides, helps with weight control and can actually slow the growth of cancerous tumors.Grass fed meat is the best source and contains up to 500 percent more CLA than grain fed. 

 

 Sustainable Pasture Management & Regenerative Agriculture

 “Regenerative Agriculture” describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.” 

 Sustainable land management methods are a win- win for the environment and the animals. The livestock and land need one another in order to thrive. Pasture raised livestock naturally improve the fertility of the soil with the animals manure and urine which they work into the soil along with seeds as they graze. The soil microbes rely on this manure as do the plants who benefit from increased nutrients and minerals for their own health. The end result is happy healthy animals that provide you with the highest possible nutrient dense protein while enhancing the environment they call home.

Here at Ciardullo Ranch we practice regenerative agriculture-methods used to restore the ecosystem-to leave it better than how we found it.  What does that look like for us? Well, we abide by a no till method in our pastures and practice rotational grazing methods-this means we move our livestock to different sections or paddocks of the pasture based on grass height along with other factors to promote improved plant growth and soil carbon while allowing time for the grazed areas to rest and regrow. This regrowth is key to managing our herd’s impact on the land and mimics the natural migration pattern of ruminants (think bison) who moved constantly, grazing as they went covering thousands of miles. Interestingly, cattle love the routine of pasture rotation and become excited and eager to mooove to their new pasture often standing in line waiting for us to open a gate. Josh regularly works with the National Resource Conservation Service (NRSC) and National Forest Service to ensure the land is being managed to the highest standards. 

 

References: 

https://regenerationinternational.org/why-regenerative-agriculture/

 https://savory.global/

 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308521X17310338#.WpHorNqe0qU.twitter

 Ruechel, Julius. Grass-Fed Cattle: How to Produce and Market Natural Beef. Storey Pub., 2006.

Hyman, Mark. Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? Little, Brown and Company, 2018.