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Why is Grass Fed Beef so expensive?

I'm quite certain that you have wondered why grass fed beef costs so much more than conventionally raised feedlot beef. I know I have been asked this question before as well. Just for clarity, when I say grass fed beef, I am referring to beef that has been raised on pasture with daily pasture rotations for its entire life. Even beef finished in a feed lot is technically grass fed. Generally, all cows are born and raised on pasture for a certain portion of their lives before ending up in a feedlot, but this is a topic for another day.

There are several reasons why grass fed beef, raised in the way that I describe is more expensive. The biggest reason being that it is more of a quality product. Think of it as hand crafted cabinets versus a storage cabinet that you can buy from Walmart and assemble yourself. There is a huge different in quality and how these cabinets were made. This is not to say that those that raise feedlot beef raise a poor product or do a bad job but typically this is done on a much larger scale. You loose some of the uniqueness and attention to detail when raising beef this way in my opinion. Feedlot beef is a numbers game and cranking out as much product as possible in the shortest amount of time possible.

Another reason is time. It takes a longer to raise a cow completely on grass to get it to a large enough weight that is is ready for slaughter. Conversely, when a cow is in a feedlot they get to that final slaughter weight much more quickly. Typically feedlot beef is slaughtered by 18 months of age and usually sooner. Raising and finishing animals completely on grass will take about 24-30 months to be properly finished. Some may need even longer. That is a long time to wait on a paycheck for one animal!

One of the final reasons is simply production practices. Grass fed beef is raised differently and usually with less things such as antibiotics and other inputs. This requires more land (more on that in another post) and a different way of looking at beef production. All of these factors affect the price of the products we produce. Not everyone prefers grass fed beef but raising it this way has benefits, both for the land and the people eating the food. Feel free to check out a couple websites below that elaborate on the cost of grass fed beef as well.

Consumer Reports

Grass Run Farms

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