— The Openherd Team

Grass Fed Beef

Dexter Beef animals mature in 24 months on grass and result in nice size cuts of high quality lean meat, graded choice, with little waste.  The expected average dress-out is 55-60% and the beef is slightly darker red than that of other breeds.  In a tasting test that compared 10 different breeds in 2008 (8 heritage breeds & 2 widely available breeds-Angus & Shorthorn), Dexters took 3rd place ahead of Angus and Shorthorn.

Grassfed Beef has regained popularity in recent years due to its natural health benefits and its rich “beefy” flavor.  It has become a bit of a rarity due to the widespread use of corn to speed up the growing process and meet the demands of feeding the world.  In short, it is much leaner (less fat) and contains much higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), when compared to grain-fed beef.  It has been reported that grassfed beef contains as much as 500times more omega-3 fatty acids than grain-finished feef.  (For a more detailed description of these benefits, see the article at:  http://www.americangrassfedbeef.com/grass-fed-natural-beef.asp)  

The downside of raising grassfed beef is that it takes longer to finish a steer when compared to finishing on grain.  Traditionally, grain-fed beef takes about 15-18months to finish, while grassfed beef takes 24-27months to finish a steer.  However, we believe the health benefits and the enhanced flavor are worth the wait!    


How to calculate Beef Yields

Most 2 year old Dexter butcher steers will weigh-in at about 800-900lbs.  The average grass-fed Dexter will yield a carcass weight (also called "hanging weight") of around 55-57% of their live weight.  The carcass weight is the weight used by butchers when charging for processing; and it is also the weight used by cattle owners when selling beef per pound.  The actual weight that goes home can vary quite a bit based on how the buyer wants the beef cut up.  

When attempting to estimate what an animal will truly yield, a good rule-of-thumb to use is as follows: (based on percentage of carcass weight)

25% Steaks;  25% Roasts;  25% Ground Beef/Stew meat;  25% Waste (excess fat and bone)

So, for example, having an entire beef ground up for hamburger will greatly affect the actual yield because of the absence of bones.  Therefore an example steer may have the following:

850lb live weight

476lb Carcass weight (56% of LW) 

357lb of traditionally cut freezer beef (42% of LW)

What to know when ordering your beef

The locker we use to process our beef allows our steers to "hang" for 9-10days, which allows for additional tenderizing of the beef through the natural aging process and enzyme-breakdown of the muscle.   Here are some things to consider when ordering your beef: 

How thick do you want your steaks? We recommend at least 1" thick (also how many per package?)  If you prefer having your tenderloins (Filet mignon) and New York Strips instead of the traditional T-bone steaks, you'll have to request it.  Also, if you don't want the round steaks, you'll have to let them know.

How big do you want your roasts? We usually ask for 3-4lb roasts

How do want your hamburger packaged? 1-1.5lb packages? 

Other considerations: You'll have to let them know if you want stew meat, ribs, liver, heart, tongue, tallow, soup bones, etc.  Beef sticks, Jerky, and other specialty products would also need to be noted.