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The age-old argument: grass-fed or grain-fed beef

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to choosing the right type of beef, ranging from different cuts, marbling and cooking methods. However, one of the biggest debates is whether grass fed or grain fed beef is the better option.

Australian grass-fed beef has been raised exclusively on pastures. This results in a leaner cut of meat, with less fat and marbling and as a result, it also means the meat has a far more distinctive, gamey flavour when compared to grain-fed beef. The fat colouration can also appear more yellow due to the pigments of the grass.

Australian grass-fed beef is sourced from all over Australia, but the type of cattle raised and the type of feed and environment they’re raised in can vary. For example, grass fed cattle raised in Victoria where it’s colder and wetter will typically be a very different breed and eat a very different diet to cattle on a station in the Northern Territory.

The actual flavour of grass-fed beef can vary significantly and is dependant on the grasses and pastures that the animal has eaten, its breed and age, as well as the cooking method. Grass-fed beef is trickier to cook due to its lean nature, which makes it much easier to accidently overcook the meat. Overall, grass-fed beef is leaner, with more robust and earthy flavours when compared with grain-fed beef.

Despite the name, Australian grain-fed cattle actually spend around 85-90% of their lives on a pasture before spending anywhere between 50-120 days in a feedlot. Only specialty markets that require higher marbling, such as wagyu will require the cattle to be grain-fed for around 300-400 days.

Australian grain-fed beef is typically sourced from cattle that have been raised in the eastern states of Australia, mainly Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. These regions generally have a more favourable climate for growing grains, meaning it’s logistically easier to transport the feed to the cattle.

In Australian feedlots, the cattle are generally fed a mixture of wheat, barley and sorghum. This results in meat that is fattier and has more marbling; leaving you with tender, flavourful and buttery meat. Because grain-fed cattle are not as affected by bad rainfall or climate, the quality of meat is far more consistent and reliable.

Ultimately, it is a matter of personal preference. Luckily Andrews Meat Industries offers a wide range of grain-fed and grass-fed options, letting you find your optimal beef cuts.

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