2016 Grassfed Beef
2016 Grassfed Beef cuts available at Local Farmer’s Markets and at the ranch.
Your Source for Quality, Healthful, Locally Produced, Meats
Chaffin Family Orchards has been raising livestock with integrity for over 60 years. We have been building on our foundation breeding stock with an eye towards an efficient animal who can lay on a good amount of fat cover with a diet comprised almost exclusively of grass. Our herd is comprised of old-fashioned Hereford and Shorthorn genetics combined with the wonderful Angus and Red Angus genetics from Pharo Cattle Company. Unlike other beef producers we do not attend sales and purchase the “hottest new thing in bulls” every year. Instead we work together with Pharo cattle company to purchase the best quality. Any new bulls that are added are sired by old cows who have proven their ability to survive and raise a calf year in and year out on the range. This is important to you, the beef purchaser, because it means the animals harvested for our grass fed beef are able to survive on our land with the most minimal of inputs. In this way we are able to make the best use of the land while producing the most environmentally conscious and nutrient dense meats we can. It is Chaffin Family Orchards’ belief that our grassfed beef serves four purposes:
Taste & Quality
Grassfed meats are a lot like wines in the sense that management practices, breed, locale, and aging technique all play a huge role in what the finished product will taste like. Virtually any animal having been raised on a predominately grass and hay diet can be called “grass fed” and any animal allowed to walk about can be called “free range”. These are by no means a guarantee that you’ll be eating a quality product. All of our cattle are born and raised start to finish on our property and they only eat natural rangeland grass and minimal quantities of hay (also grown on our property) for their entire lives. We time the harvest so that the animals finish on our wild rangeland spring grasses when the grass is the most abundant and most nutritious which is in middle to late spring. For that 4 to 6 week window our cattle enjoy some of the finest grass in the country. Properly finishing cattle on grass involves orchestrating movements and timing so that you end up with mature cattle that have fully grown into their frame and muscling so that they can then feast on the best grass of the year and build up copious amounts of internal marbling and put on ample external fat covering. Animals only produce that marbling, which is what keeps the beef tender and juicy during cooking, when they are of the proper age and grazing the highest quality forages. Cattle harvested before they are ready or during the wrong part of the grass season usually produce much tougher steaks with a strong gamey flavor unlike those harvested within the proper season for that locale. Cattle raised on “farmed pasture” rather than natural rangeland can also be loaded with weed killers and fertilizers that are often used on irrigated and farmed pastures. Our cattle are raised only on natural rangeland and in heirloom organic olive groves. They are never exposed to farmed pastures.
Another thing not done at Chaffin Family Orchards is to supplement our cattle with unnatural proteins or use harsh chemicals on the animals. Many grassfed beef producers worm the cattle chemically several times per year and spray the cattle with chemical fly control products. It is also common practice on many ranches to feed a supplement that contains urea or poultry feathers from commercial chicken operations as protein, with a high level of molasses or sugars added to get the animals to consume it. This is a problematic practice as the animal’s digestive tracts can become acidic and unhealthy due to the high levels of sugars. These sugars also can cause grassfed beef to have a reduced level of CLA and Omega 3. Our cattle only receive supplements of kelp meal and natural sea salt that is organically certified. We keep a close eye on the levels of vitamins in our grasses that are needed to make sure the animals are adequately absorbing these minerals. That way you can rest assured that our meats contain high levels of needed minerals and that broths made with beef bones from our cattle will be very high in minerals.
The concept that grassfed beef should be low in fat is not one we are in favor of. We work hard to get our beeves as finished as possible. It is this grass fat or finish that allows the meat to be healthy for you and loaded with omega 3’s and CLA. This is also why we only harvest once each spring, and once sold out, we won’t have any more beef until the following year. (We usually have individual cuts at the Farmers Markets for most of the year.)
Dry Aged Grassfed Beef
We are one of the few beef producers that still dry age our beef and we dry age the entire carcass not just specific cuts. Dry aging is an old fashioned process in which water from the carcass is allowed to evaporate resulting in beef that has more depth of flavor and further eliminates any grassy aftertaste. At the same time the enzymes in the meat break down the muscle fibers lending to the most melt-in-your-mouth steaks and roasts you can imagine. Dry aging requires a high percentage of external fat cover on the carcass and this is what excludes most producers from being able to properly dry age their beef. The longer the aging the more external fat cover is required to protect the beef but also the more tender the meat will end up. We dry age our beef for a minimum of 21 days but often as long as 28 days if the butcher has room in his cooler. This is absolutely unheard of in the modern world where most beef isn’t aged at all or it’s briefly wet aged where it sits in the package in its own juices. The quality difference when eating meat dry aged for 21 to 28 days is worlds apart. Usually dry aged cuts of this caliber are only available at the highest quality 5 star restaurants and steakhouses. We are one of a few ranches whose cattle carry enough finish (fat) to be dry aged this length of time.
Livestock raised exclusively on a grass diet produce meats with health benefits not found in animals raised in feedlots and finished on grain. Grassfed meats have more vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a number of health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acid, a compound that has been shown to act against cancer and heart disease. Grassfed animals have also exhibited a drastically lower risk for harboring human harming pathogens particularly things like E. coli 0157:H7. For more information go to the www.Eatwild.com website.
Good for the Land and Environment
Supporting ranchers who raise livestock within a truly grass based system is good for the environment. Our ranch preserves open space which might otherwise be plowed under for development. The majority of our property is rolling open rangeland and savannahs on rich volcanic soils. Grasslands are an amazing ecological resource. They are like giant biological filters. An acre of grassland sequesters more atmospheric carbon than an acre of rainforest and most of that is stored underground where it builds richer soils and is preserved should a fire come through. They also are capable of filtering incredible amounts of water and increase the grounds ability slow down and absorb moving water to avoid runoff which can lead to eroded damaged ecosystems. All of these benefits actually depend on the grassland being grazed. Without ruminants to graze the grasslands, the land will become covered in a dead grass thatch layer and eventually choke out all new growth. Appropriate management of grazing actually promotes grassland growth and builds strength and resilience into the ecosystem.
When an animal is stressed it affects meat quality. Animals that are raised in close confinement or handled roughly will release stress hormones that have a negative effect on taste and tenderness. Our animals are accustomed to moving to new areas frequently so they actually come when called, in anticipation of moving to new pasture. This makes for extremely low stress gathering and handling. Our team has been working stock on foot for many generations. The animals and people work together in a kind of dance that is a joy to watch. Our horses are trained in natural stockmanship using the Parelli method and our team and family is trained in and uses the late Bud Williams method of natural stockmanship.
Unique in 2015
You might be wondering how we plan to accomplish all of the above with this being a potential drought year and grass requiring water to grow. That’s where our experience and large sized ranch are a blessing. We reduced the size of our cow herd in 2014 and the number of steers this year to half the number we were finishing out before the drought; at the same time we have moved our mother cow herd to another of our ranches. This allows the steers for this year to have the choicest of our grasses and in ample quantity to finish well. Also with our cattle being from many generations of grass based bloodlines, they can finish well on very little feed. This reduction in animals means we won’t have quite as much beef to sell, but what we do have will be super tender and tasty.
About the Beef Harvest
Our quality grassfed meats can be purchased as individual cuts at the ranch or farmer’s market. All of our animals are harvested in a USDA-inspected facility. We take care to use a small local producer who treats our animals with respect. When you purchase locally, family farmers like us have the opportunity to receive a living wage and are able to stay on the land, protecting it from development and continue to use methods that benefit the environment. Raising grassfed livestock allows the land to stay in its natural state as no buildings or stock yards are required. Grassfed meat production is virtually non-mechanized and instead of burning mass amounts of diesel in tractors it provides local jobs to further enhance economic stability and vitality.