Grass-Fed vs. Grain-Fed, Comparing the Steaks

by Bill Flannery

As with everything else, there are quality levels in meat, and they matter. You need not be a steak expert to tell the difference between a restaurant-quality piece of meat and a so-so steak.

When talking about quality, the terms grass-fed and grain-fed always pop up, so what does grass-fed mean? And what’s the difference between steaks coming from grain-fed beef? Here’s all you need to know about grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Which one’s for you? You’ll soon find out!

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What is Grass-Fed Beef?

Cattle feed on grass; that’s their natural diet. To label meat as Grass-Fed, the cattle must have year-round access to the outdoors, and they must eat organic grass (with no herbicides or pesticides).

For meat to be Organic, similar USDA rules apply, but the cattle’s diet can be complemented with grain, more often than not corn (which must be organic, too!). Then there are Grass-Finished cattle, which might be fed grain through their lives and allowed to roam or forage grass in their later stages.

Grass-fed meat is leaner, and healthier. Of course, fat plays a big role in meat’s flavor, so grass-fed will be less flavorful, at least when it comes to fat.


What is Grain-Fed Beef?

Grain-fed beef is often raised without access to the outside, although that’s not always the case. There’s nothing wrong with feeding grains to cattle from time to time to develop intramuscular fat (marbling). Still, this is not, by any means, a cow’s natural diet — and an unbalanced diet might lead to health problems.

Grain-fed beef grows faster and develops more fat. They also used the technique in grain-finished beef, in which the cattle eat grass most of their life but are fed grains at a later stage. Grain-fed beef has a more noticeable marbling and thicker fat strips, but at what cost?


What’s Best, Grass-Fed or Grain-Fed?

When choosing one type of meat over the other, there are several things to consider. First, there’s the animals’ health and happiness. When animals roam freely and eat grass as their ancestors did for thousands of years, they’re healthier — meaning there’s no need to supplement their diets or treat them with antibiotics.

As for nutrition, grain-fed steaks are fattier, and for many, fat is a synonym for flavor. Grain-fed cattle, such as Wagyu, are undoubtedly more marbled, but with fat come certain risks. Commonly, there are three-times more fat in a grain-fed steak compared to a grass-fed piece, and it adds more calories to your diet, too!

For Steaks, Quality Matters

Now you know all there is to know about grass and grain-fed beef. Who knew meat could be so interesting? Whether you prefer grass-fed beef over grain-fed or the other way around, what matters most is buying responsibly sourced beef from reputable ranchers through a quality-oriented supplier.

Get restaurant-quality steaks from Savage Steaks. Hand-cut steaks, all-natural and organic, this is how you’re supposed to enjoy beef, so have your favorite cuts delivered to your doorstep with Savage Steaks’ same-day delivery!