Armstrong Research and Demonstration Farm
Consumer interest in the potential benefits of grass-finished beef is high, but adoption of this approach to cattle feeding has been limited in Iowa. Although some producers successfully meet this niche market demand, consistently producing a high-value carcass from forage-fed cattle is challenging. Intramuscular fat or marbling is a major factor in quality grading of beef. Marbling is heavily influenced by cattle genetics and energy concentration of the diet. Finishing cattle on grain is a proven approach to consistently produce a high-value carcass for the commodity beef market. Researchers at Iowa State University have pioneered the use of ultrasound measurements to select Angus cattle with high-marbling potential. Forage quality can be manipulated through pasture management, ultimately influencing cattle growth and performance. It is hypothesized that grass-finished cattle will consistently produce high value carcasses if excellent pasture management is combined with combining high-marbling genetics.
Iowa State University
Lammers, Peter J.; Millman, Suzanne T.; Dewell, Reneé; Juarez, Jessica R.; Christianson, Michelle L.; Maxwell, Dallas L.; and Honeyman, Mark S., "Grass-finished Beef Pilot Project: Cattle Performance" (2013). Iowa State Research Farm Progress Reports. 1866.