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Maybe You Shouldn’t Tell Folks You’ve Got Grass-fed Animals

By   /  September 16, 2013  /  8 Comments

Consumers DO want your product. It’s just that many don’t really understand what different terms mean. Here’s what some researchers and focus groups tell us about what is important to our customers and how to tell the story of our product.

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You remember Romeo and Juliet, don’t you?  When her father heard the name of the man she love
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About the author

Publisher, Editor and Author

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.


  1. Kirby says:

    How about “free range”. It works for chicken dosen’t it.

  2. Josh says:

    We were using the term “pastured” quite a bit more than grass-fed, but the unanticipated effect of using “pastured” is that many consumers were hearing or reading it as “pasteurized.” Not quite the same! “Pasture-grazed” or similar should help with that misconception – glad to have seen it!

    • suzie says:

      It’s because “pasture Grazed” is an active, taking verb, where as “grass fed” is a passive, receiving verb. The cow has to actively graze, but can easily be handed grass to eat.

  3. Kristin says:

    Thank you for this. I would love to see info from other parts of the country. I’m in the southeast and involved with a couple local WAPF groups and there is a great deal of confusion on what constitutes grass fed.

    And there is more than just a lifetime on grass. I think how the animals are managed on grass (mob grazing/frequent rotational grazing vs. continuous grazing) is a critical educating point, if not so much marketing.

  4. Rick says:

    Kathy –

    Thanks for sharing the info from Wisconsin and Michigan – I hope to be able to find more details from their studies on the web.

    I work closely with several “grassfed” producers and the key to their success (after rainfall) is marketing a perception. Shaping their production system and product to fit the expectation of their customers.

    Among all the available beef products (traditional grain fed, natural, grassfed, organic) I submit that grassfed may be the most variable – in terms of preharvest production systems and finished products. I see everything from fat, 7-10 month old fresh-weaned calves to old ‘retiring’ cows being marketed as grassfed beef. True, the American Grassfed Association has well defined standards, but not all ‘grassfed’ producers adhere to them.

  5. Mike Jones says:


    Keith has a good point. Here at Beaver Creek Farm the animals spend their whole life (except for a few hours a year when we vaccinate and one hour ride to harvest humanely) grazing fresh forage on pasture.

    How about “Whole life fresh pasture grazed” or “Whole life Grazed”?


  6. Keith Dehaan says:


    I have a problem with any grass-fed, pasture-grazed words when it can qualify for “any point during the animal’s lifetime”, which qualifies most cattle. I prefer the words grass, pasture, or forage “finished”.


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