One of the complaints most often heard about grass-fed beef is that while it may be healthier than grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef’s taste, tenderness and consistency is inferior to grain-fed beef. Here at Dennis Farms, we refuse to accept that premise and have made it our goal to show our customers that grass-fed beef and lamb can be just as tasty and tender on a consistent basis as grain fed.
Many producers state that their grass-fed meat is lean or even very lean as if this is the way it has to be. That is simply not the case. While there is nothing wrong with raising lean meat if that is what your customers desire, it is a choice, not a given.
It is the intramuscular fat (marbling) that gives meat the taste and juiciness most people consider essential for a satisfying eating experience. Also, some of the key health benefits of eating grass-fed meat such as CLA and Omega 3 are found in the fat and not the lean. There really is good fat as well as bad fat and grass-fed fat is good fat.
When we decided to make Dennis Farms a grass farm raising grass-fed cattle and sheep and pastured pigs, we knew the first step was to “go to school” and learn what the key components to successfully accomplish our goal were. We found that fertile soil, quality grass, the correct genetics and proper management of all 3 were essential to producing a quality product.
We regularly test our soil for pH and nutrients. We practice management intensive grazing (MiG), a step beyond rotational grazing, that builds soil fertility and keeps our animals on the best grass. We plant winter annual grass and summer annual grass in conjunction with our perennial grasses to even out the seasonal slumps as much as possible. When grass is in short supply we feed high quality Bermuda hay. We chose Red Angus cows because the Angus breed excels in carcass quality and a red hide provides more heat tolerance in our hot summers than does a black hide. We chose Katahdin hair sheep because they naturally shed their winter coat for heat tolerance, they are more parasite resistant and without wool they have no lanolin so their meat has a lighter more delicate taste than a wool breed. And our insightful timely management ties the soil, grass and genetics all together.
While pigs are omnivores not ruminants, the same attention to detail was given when selecting a breed to add to the farm. We chose Tamworths, a heritage breed, because they are natural grazers, have a red hide for heat tolerance and are a “bacon” type rather than a “lard” type for more meat and less fat.
We hope you will try our products. We won’t sell it if it isn’t of the same quality we would expect if we were buying it. We have found that repeat customers are the best customers.