May 4

Seems like a no-brainer to me


From The Beef Blog:

OSU researchers have used self-fed soybean hull pellets for a growing program for replacement heifers. Acidosis, bloat, and founder have all been identified as potential risks associated with feeding soybean hull pellets free choice to growing cattle. In previous research, they found that the incidence of bloat was significantly reduced and weight gain increased when cattle receiving free choice soybean hulls were fed 1.5 pounds per day of long stem prairie hay. However, this still did not completely alleviate the bloat risk.

Since cows weren’t designed by nature to eat soybean hulls, but to eat grass, it would seem to make sense to feed then a diet of 100 percent prairie hay and completely get rid of the bloat issue. But, what do I know?

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  1. Bloat sounds, well, like something you should get protein power for. I get why they feed the cows unhealthy diets (it’s the INCENTIVES), but I think we all pretty much know that cows live healthier on grass. Course, at the age of slaughter in this country (we like our beef young), who cares if a cow gets fat. In fact, the incentives are lined up to produce heavily marbled cows, right? USDA grading (which has been stepped down due to low fat advocates), pretty much pays you better for having a cow with more interstitial fat. And less for having a lean cow.
    Now, do not get me wrong. I love the heavily marbled Grade A PRIME that you only get in restaurants (and not Friday’s or McDonalds). They are Protein Power Delicious with all kinds of nice fats.
    So, it’s confusing.
    In other news: Self is looking to find some partners to share purchase of a beef cow. Would be very cool, and you can get them for
    and you can get them for…? 

  2. Dr. Mike
    What do you make of people who claim that low-carb dieting raises cortisol levels? Is it true that lots of exercise and caffein raise cortisol? Heck, how should one deal with cortisol?
    Thanks a lot
    Hi Freddy–
    When people tell me that low-carb diets raise cortisol levels, I always ask them to show me the evidence.  So far, no one has.  Maybe there is some evidence out there, but I haven’t seen it.  And, it doesn’t make biochemical sense, to me, anyway.
    Strenuous exercise does raise cortisol, but it should do so.  Strenuous exercise is a stress, and cortisol is a (the) stress hormone, so it makes sense that is should be raised during a period of stress.  Cortisol has a function, and that function (which is beyond the scope of the comment section to go into in depth) is to deal with stress, so it is appropriate that cortisol levels increase under acutely stressful circumstances.  The problem comes when cortisol is chronically elevated or is elevated inappropriately.

  3. Pork is even worse. It is so tasteless and dry they are now “seasoning” it and I don’t want to buy the treated stuff. Like “enriched” foods that have had all the nutrients processed out of them. Insane.

  4. I found this article includes what one cattle raiser feeds the cattle. Grass doesn’t seem to be included.

    “The Billmeiers feed a lot of byproducts from canning factories, ethanol plants and sugarbeet processing plants in the area.
    “We’re kind of unique in this area because we have so many byproducts to feed. We’re within a 40-minute drive of a huge sugarbeet plant at Renville and all the byproducts there,” he said.
    They have three sweet corn canning factories within an hour of their place to get byproducts from. Byproducts are usually delivered once a week to the farm.
    The winter diet for the cows consists of cornstalks, sweet corn silage, beet pulp, distillers grains and soybean meal. They do not feed any corn.”

    MMM,mmm.  Byproducts.  My favorite.

  5. Part of the problem with feeding beef a grass diet is… grass.
    Or more specifically, having enough land to grow enough grass to feed them.
    It’s not just “incentives” to buy soy, corn, or industrial to feed them.
    During the growing season, cattle can graze all the grass in a pasture down to nuthin’ in what seems like no time, to the point where if they’re allowed to continue grazing that pasture, they’ll kill all the grass. The cattle need to be moved to a different pasture, while the previously grazed pasture takes weeks and weeks to rest and re-grow.
    That’s assuming you even have enough rain for it to grow quickly – think about how often you need to mow your lawn when there’s no rain for a few weeks. We’ve had some summers when the grass just didn’t grow at all for a couple months. If our grass didn’t grow, neither did the pastures.
    During the winter, well, those pastures are going to be dormant anyway, so the cattle will need to (ideally) be fed hay or alfalfa, which means that a good bit of land will need to be set aside purely to raise the crops needed for winter feeding.
    In addition, they’re just not making any land any more. An acre of land can be used to grow more corn and soybean calories than hay and alfalfa calories, so the grain based feed goes further than the grass based feed.
    So if a farmer has 100 acres, that MIGHT be enough land to graze 20 head of cattle, while growing enough hay to feed them through at least part of the winter, although he’ll probably still have to supplement it with some kind of commercial feed. Problem is, if he devotes all of his land just to that few head of cattle, he’ll be living in poverty, because he won’t get much for the cattle when they go to slaughter.
    I don’t like the idea of feeding our meat animals that kind of commercial junk either – that was never the way cattle were meant to eat. But it’s a fact of life these days: It simply takes less land to raise enough corn/soybeans to feed these animals than it does to feed them grass, and most of the time, individual cattle farmers simply don’t have enough land to raise them without using commercial feed or industrial farming products. Even large dairy/cattle farming operations have similar land constraints – a herd of 200 cattle will require 10 times the land resources of our hypothetical 20 head herd.
    Hi Calianna–
    I can’t argue meaningfully with anything you write because I’m not a cattle rancher and never have been.  I know that I can buy grass fed beef for more (but not outrageously more) than I pay for non-grass fed beef, so either people who are feeding their animals on grass have figured out a way to do it profitably or are rapidly going to the poor house.
    I hope this comment encourages some debate or commentary from others who know much, much more than I.  All I know is that grass-fed beef is much better healthwise, but I know nothing about the economics involved in it’s production.

  6. Whoops, must have posted before finishing.
    Can get a whole cow for less than $3 per pound apparently. The grass fed, natural organic stuff.
    Of course, you need to know how to cook stuff like shanks, ribs, oxtail, beef cheeks, tongue (they can keep that. I’ve seen it at my local super ethnic market and don’t want it), etc. A cow is not all ribeyes, tenderloins, and strip loins. Course, if you know what you’re doing, all that other stuff is pretty good.
    PS- I might’ve mentioned: Costco (in my hood at least) is now selling beef oxtail in the vac-pack club quantity.

  7. Dr. Mike,
    Growing up in Nebraska on a ranch I learned early on that there were types of vegetation that could kill cattle if they ate it. One of those things was Alfalfa growing in the field. If the cattle got out and filled up on that they would bloat up until they died without veterinarian intervention.
    This sounds to me like it could be a comparable situation.
    We raised all of our beef ourselves and they were fed on hay and corn. I can never quite find a steak quite as good as the ones I had back home.

  8. I’ve found a local source of “natural” beef (not “organic”), and the producer claims it’s 90% grass fed, with the other 10% being corn and soy, for “flavor”. He also claims no non-medically necessary antibiotics.
    I haven’t yet found a local source of “pure” grass fed beef, so we’ll see how this works out until, and if, I do. It *looks* really good, and I’m fixing to grill it up this evening.

  9. Sir as its almost summer time..any chance of you writing something about sunshine and mood and such like pleasum ?
    I know there was a ch in PPLP but it didn’t say much about mood as i recall and sunlight and its importance.
    Seems kinda important when advocating a low carb evol. correct dietary regime that sunshine is included esp vis mood.
    Must be oodles of readers who don’t yet use a light box in the fall and winter.. and even spring here in Can-ardour !
    Simon (Fellows)
    Hi Simon–
    Sure.  Sunshine improves your mood.  Why do you think people like to baste in the sun?  Because they’re going to get a painful sunburn, which everyone looks forward to?  No, because it feels so good and makes one feel so much better.

  10. Joel Salatin can grow a lot of grass-fed cows on his farm, plus a whole lot more. It’s all about how the land is managed.
    According to Michael Pollan (“The Omnivore’s Dilemma”) this is what Mr. Salatin raises per year on his farm:
    30,000 Dozen eggs
    10,000 broilers
    800 stewing hens
    50 beeves (representing 25,000 pounds of beef)
    250 hogs (25,000 pounds of pork
    1,000 turkeys
    500 rabbits
    Polyface farms ( is 100 acres of pasture supported by 450 acres of woodland.
    I can’t imagine the brain power involved in such an undertaking. But it seems to me that it’s not just about the Beef. All the other animanls on the farm have specific “jobs” that they do to keep the farm healthy and sustainable.
    Trader Joe’s has some pastured Australian beef. Granted, it’s not local, but it’s very affordable.

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