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Grass-Fed vs. Grass-Finished Cattle: What's the Difference?

Madelene Hissom · Nov 11, 2021

Author: Janine DeVault

When it comes to selecting food and treats, we all want to offer the best for our pets, but interpreting the labels on pet food products can be challenging. When it comes to choosing products made from beef, “grass-fed” and “grass-finished” are two terms you are liable to see on packages, where grass-fed is more known over-all. If you’re wondering what these terms mean and which type of beef is most ideal, question no more.

Below, we’ll unpack what the terms “grass-fed” and “grass-finished” really mean and suggest what to keep in mind when choosing treats for your dogs. 

What Does Grass-Fed Mean?

Grass-fed is a common phrase found on beef labels, but what does it really mean? While the term may conjure an image of a free-range cow grazing on grass in a pasture, this isn’t necessarily the case. Grass-fed indicates that a cow was fed a diet of grass at the beginning of its life but should not be taken to mean that the cow was fed only grass.  

Many grass-fed cows are grain-finished, meaning they are transitioned to a grain-based diet at some point in their growth before being butchered. For instance, it is pretty common in factory farming operations to have cows eat grass early in life and “finish” them with grain once they are more mature, as it helps them put on substantial fat before they are sent to market. Ultimately, the term “grass-fed” can be misleading as it doesn’t account for a cow’s diet throughout its entire lifespan.  

What Does Grass-Finished Mean?

Grass-finished is a term used for cows that are fed grass throughout their entire lifespan. Grass-finished cows have never been fed a grain diet and are typically raised free-range in pastures. Instead of being fattened with grain-based diets, free-range grass-finished cattle can build body mass naturally over time, making for leaner, healthier cows. 

Grass-finished beef has been shown to have higher levels of certain nutrients, including E and B vitamins, potassium, and magnesium. It also containers higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. These factors all mean that grass-finished beef is more nutritious for your dog!  

Not only is grass-finished beef of higher quality than grass-fed beef, but it’s also better for the environment. Grazing helps to naturally till and redistribute nutrients to the soil, promoting a stable ecosystem and perpetuating healthy grass crops for future herds of cattle!

Which Option Is Healthiest for My Dog?

Ideally, you want to purchase products made with grass-finished beef. This means that not only did the cattle eat grass, but it was raised in a pasture setting where it had the chance to graze on various types of grass and forage, making for a well-rounded, natural diet. This is a much more natural way for cows to bulk up, rather than through low-quality grain-based diets, which simply serve to make them fatty. As such, the beef from grass-finished cows tends to be leaner than that of grain-finished cows. 

Natural Farm Products Are Made From Grass-Fed AND Grass-Finished Beef

Natural Farm Bully Sticks and Beef Chews are made from beef that is both grass-fed and grass-finished. We source our beef from Brazilian cattle which is raised grain-, hormone-, and chemical-free, ensuring that the beef we use is high-quality and healthy for dogs. The cattle are free-range, meaning they eat healthy natural diets of grass and forage and experience less stress than a cow raised in a factory setting.

We also have our own USDA human grade certified facility in Brazil, meaning we can process and control each of our products from start to finish. This makes for better quality control and a significantly lower risk of contamination.

At Natural Farm, we know how confusing pet food labels can be, which is why we are committed to creating products from single (or very few) ingredients using only top-quality beef, pork and chicken. Your pet deserves the best!