A Guide to Grass-Fed and Grain-Finished Beef

Grass Fed versus Grain Finished Beef

We have asked one of Crowd Cow’s co-founders, Joe Heitzeberg, to explain what the difference is between grass-fed beef and grain-finished beef. You can learn more about Crowd Cow’s story on their website.

Crowd Cow is so excited to be partnering with Smith Brothers Farms to offer you delicious and humanely raised craft beef.

Crowd Cow's mission is to allow everyone to discover and enjoy craft meat from small, independent ranchers - celebrating farms and the people who have dedicated their lives to producing healthy, high-quality meat you can trust.

All the ground beef from Crowd Cow on Smith Brothers Farms comes from local, single-named farms, is raised on open pastures, and never receives unnecessary antibiotics or growth hormones of any kind.

However, we offer two types -- with distinct flavor differences -- and this guide can help you select the one you prefer!

Grain-finished beef

Many people prefer the more buttery flavor of grain-finished beef. Grains like corn or barley are energy-dense, and cattle raised with grain in their diet generally yield more marbled beef with a milder flavor than beef raised on grass alone.

Crowd Cow’s “pasture-raised, craft grain” beef is higher quality and better for the environment than conventional feedlot grain-finished beef.

This is because the animals spend the majority of their lives on open pasture eating the natural grasses grown on the farm. Then, unlike conventional grain-finished beef sold in stores and restaurants, the animal stays on the same farm and is fed a high quality, nutritious mix of grasses, corn, peas and other vegetable ingredients grown on or near the farm.

The animals are never confined in concentrated feedlots or subjected to antibiotics or growth hormones. It’s grain-finished beef done right.

Grass-fed beef

Grass-finished beef is beef that has consumed only grasses for its entire life, and for Crowd Cow, this is grass from the pastures where the animal was raised (and never grass-pellets administered in a concentrated feedlot, which is where more and more beef labeled “grass-finished” sold in stores comes from.)

Grass-finished beef tends to have a beefier--sometimes called "gamier"--flavor because of the nutritional complexity of pasture grasses and also tends to be a little leaner.

Grass-finished beef can also tend to have a higher proportion of omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with improved cardiovascular health.

Think of this ground beef as “dry-aged, ground steak!”

All of Crowd Cow’s ground beef comes from animals raised to produce steak and which have been dry-aged. Dry aging is a natural process that tenderizes the meat, concentrates flavors, and removes water.

When you purchase dry-aged ground beef, you’re not paying extra for the water weight found in conventional ground beef (up to 30% of its weight!). Because of that, you’ll notice Crowd Cow’s beef “shrinks” less when cooked. 

Dry aging is just one of the many other factors that contribute to outstanding ground beef flavor, including the breed, raising the cattle in natural, healthy environments without stress, and providing the animal a nutritious diet.

Whichever you choose, we hope that you’ll love this ground beef!