We seem to do pretty much everything around here pretty big and that includes buying meat. When we buy beef or lamb, we buy the whole animal and hire a butcher to do the deed and another party to cut and package the animal. We eat well for many, many months, save trips to the store, enjoy filet mignon, and have friends who invite themselves over.
Every time we do it we end up in this discussion about how much grain to feed the animal in the last few weeks. Omega-3 fatty acids decline as grain feeding increases, but gosh, it’s hard to coordinate a steer’s and a pasture’s maturity to end up with an animal that is fattened from grazing alone. We usually give the steer some grain in his last days, but we end up with a pretty lean end-product nonetheless. The lean nature of the product is a key reason grass fed beef is not a high Omega-3 food, contrary to some writings on the Internet.
Some time back, I wrote about our freelance butcher Ted and the adventure watching him butcher a steer, pictured below (I Met My Meat). If you are thinking about buying a live animal, you might benefit from some of my mistakes. If you are interested and don’t know where to start, your best bet on price is to hook up with a small rancher who has a few extra animals but does not market to the high-end grass fed beef market. You might find them at a farmer’s market, probably selling something other than beef. If I were looking here, I’d hit some area cowboy restaurants and talk to the guys drinking beer. Minimally, I would get to chat and drink beer, so it’s all good.
Somehow, I’ve now got a powerful craving for a burger.