In "Part I" of this series of articles in the Carwood Farm Monthly Newsletter, I shared how we manage the "breeding phase" of our herd on the farm. In "Part II" I described the "feeder phase" when the cattle live on a rotationally grazed diet during the growing season and are fed "high moisture" hay during the winter months. If you missed either of these articles, they are available to read in the blog section of our website. We are now on to the final phase, called the "finishing phase".
For the finishing phase we change their diet from grazing to a corn/grain diet for about 120 days along with free choice hay all the time. It is during this 120 days that marbling is formed which is a fancy way of saying fat and tenderizing occurs which is where the flavor of beef comes from. We experimented with the timing of this phase many years ago and learned that at 120 days enough marbling occurs to create prime quality beef that is also lean and healthy. Back in those days, we did process directly from the rotational grass diet. The beef had very little marbling (fat) was tough and had almost no flavor. This is what prompted us to figure out how long they should be on a grain diet. When I was a kid, we corn/grain fed cattle from when they were just a couple months old through the feeder and finishing phases. This produced a very fatty beef. Now, with the 120 finishing phase, when you cook Carwood Beef, you will not find a large amount of left over grease or gristle because there is just enough to add tenderizing and flavoring but not so much that your beef is saturated with fat.
Through each and every phase, minimizing animal stress is a primary focus. We do this by ensuring nutritional needs are well met, we keep their environment as clean as possible and when we move cattle we use low stress techniques designed to collaborate with the animals normal instincts and behaviors.
By managing all these vital aspects of animal welfare and avoiding things like adding hormones to feed and preventative antibiotic treatments (we only use antibiotics to treat diagnosed symptoms - which is rare (2 or 3 animals/year)) we are able to produce consistently prime quality beef to our local community.
If you are not yet a Carwood customer, ask around, it won't be hard for you to find someone who is. Ask them about the quality of the beef they've purchased from Carwood Farm. See what they say, then come try it for yourself through our Monthly Bundles, quarter/halves or by simply going into One13 Social in Carlisle and ordering a Carwood Smash Burger! You'll find Carwood Beef to be the best beef you've ever tasted!