When Is a Pasture-Raised Beef Cow/Steer “Finished?”

A guide on pasture-based beef finishing published by the University of Kentucky covers the challenges producers might face, from growing suitable pasture to bringing animals to a finished weight, to working with a processor, and finally, most importantly, finding customers. In this excerpt, Greg Halich, Jeff Lehmkuhler, Ray Smith and Fred Martz show how to use frame size and body condition scores to determine when you grass-fed beef animal is finished. Few traditional cattle producers have taken a calf to an optimal finishing weight and consequently may have a difficult time assessing when an animal is ready for harvest. The optimal finishing point will vary depending on breed, frame size, sex, and other animal characteristics as well as the requirements of the end market. You will not know with certainty if you achieved your targeted goal until after the animal is slaughtered and the carcass has been graded. (Beef carcasses are not routinely graded by many processors so you may have to arrange to have this done.) However, using basic information and a few tools detailed in this publication, you can come up with a reasonably accurate estimate of when your animals are ready. Frame Size Frame size refers to the overall body size of

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One thought on “When Is a Pasture-Raised Beef Cow/Steer “Finished?”

  1. I have Dexter cows and they have great pasture for five months or so and then good quality haylage after that. What we’ve noticed is that at 12-15 months, the meat is tender, but not as much flavor as old animals. We have one steer we kept until 26 months and it had the best flavor of all we’ve eaten. We also killed a younger animal that had been on the pasture all summer and it had so much fat on it that the meat-cutter had an endless job trimming. Lots of marbling.

    I’m wondering the species-specific details of the articles comments.

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