Here on the farm we produce beef raised and finished on grass, and as you can expect some of the most influential books for us are those that deal with grass. Pasture-finishing has a different set of challenges than grain-finishing, so there are plenty of things to learn. One of those books is Allan Nation’s Grassfed to Finish.
The best part of the book was the detailed look into the world of Argentinian beef. They have a climate similar to ours and they finish their beef on pastures. They use a lot of lucerne pastures just like we do here on the farm. The Argentinian beef model has a lot of relevance to us.
Argentina is represented in the book by Anibal Pordomingo, an expert in ruminant nutrition and beef quality. He spends some time in the book going through the Argentinian system, but I was left wanting to know more. Thanks to the awesomeness of the Internet, I found it.
First there is a big slide deck on Fattening grass-fed beef. It can be hard to follow but the photos are worth looking at. They can achieve well-marbled beef on lucerne. There is plenty of detail on the health benefits of grass-fed beef, mostly talking about how grain finishing trashes the Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio. The forage cycle they use throughout the year shows how you can get finish-quality pastures at any times.
Still I wanted to hear the man talk. Youtube didn’t help me but Virginia Tech has two talks online. Yay Virginia Tech! They have Anibal’s live audio running over his slides.
His explanations make the slides a whole lot more useful.
There is a sad note to end this post. Argentina is in some political confusion, with the government making some short-term popular decisions that affect the country in a bad way in the longer term. Beef prices are set on the world market, but Argentina seems to have set a price restriction on its internal beef supply, banned beef exports and subsidies grain farming. In the short term this keeps the price low but over time it pushes beef farmers out of the beef market and into cereals. Now the supply of beef has dropped and the price has tripled. I don’t think this is what the government had in mind when they proposed the export ban.