Why is grass-finished beef better than grain-finished?

Studies by Clemson University and others have shown that the types of fat found in lean, grass-fed beef are healthier, with fewer harmful Omega-6 fatty acids (which are linked to many ailments, such as heart disease) and with more of the healthy Omega-3s.  In addition, grass-fed beef has more beta-carotene, vitamin E, and conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), another “good” fat.

Cattle finished in feedlots, where they are served corn and other grains continuously, do gain weight rapidly. But because the stomachs of cattle were meant to digest grass and not grain, it causes enough health problems in the animals to require the routine use of antibiotics.  This constant exposure of America’s beef to antibiotics has become an issue that is gaining attention in the medical world where antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans is a growing problem.

Do you ever use growth hormones, steroids, antibiotics or chemicals on your herd?

We never use growth hormones or steroids on our animals.  We allow them to reach their prime weight naturally.  Our herd is vaccinated against common bovine diseases, but in the rare case that an animal becomes ill, we will use limited antibiotics on that specific animal.  In the summer we use a natural, organic fly repellent spray, but we’ll alternate it with a chemical one if the flies are causing the animals to suffer.  These are topical sprays only that do not get into the animal’s system. We also never use herbicides or chemicals on our pastures.

What kind of cattle do you raise?

Our herd consists of heritage Devon and Devon-Angus cross steers born on our farm or on other local Virginia farms that have the same strict requirements we have for humane treatment, health, and no chemicals.  The Devon is a hardy, ancient British breed that does remarkably well on a grass-only diet, providing tasty and tender meat.

What’s the difference between “dry aging” and “wet aging” of beef?

Wet aging is the process of vacuum packing large cuts of meat (primals) soon after slaughter. It is then shipped to supermarkets and processed into the packages you see in the meat section.

We dry-age our meat, a process where the carcass is hung in a refrigerated room at a constant 34 – 38° F for 21 days. During that time, moisture decreases and flavor increases. The meat also becomes more tender. Even though dry aging takes longer and is more expensive, we believe the flavor, tenderness, and “mouth feel” you experience will make you a believer in dry-aged beef.

How do I purchase your beef?

We sell our grass-fed beef by the half and whole mostly by pre-orders. We also sell some individual cuts here on the farm.  Prospect Farm is a small family operation so we encourage you to get on our mailing list and place your order for halves and wholes as soon as possible when you receive our e-mails in late February or March each year. You’ll pick up your finished beef at the farm.

How are your animals harvested?

We take our steers to a Virginia USDA-inspected facility.  We insure that our steers are treated with as much dignity and care as can be provided as they make the transition into food.

Can I visit the farm?

Yes!  We’d love to show you around.  Prospect Farm is located on the border of Buckingham and Cumberland Counties off US Route 60 in Central Virginia, about 50 minutes southeast of Charlottesville and 70 minutes west of Richmond.  Our physical address is 797 Ca Ira Road, Cumberland, Virginia 23040.

We’re open by appointment most days of the week.  We might have to work your visit in around our farm chores, so it’s a good idea to call us at (804) 815-0922 or (804) 815-1001 or e-mail us in advance so we can be there to greet you when you arrive and show you around the farm.