Grass Feeding Protocols & Animal Husbandry Guidelines

Farmer Girl Meats Grass Fed Beef

 

Mettenburg Farm is a pasture and grass-based cattle operation with continuous and unconfined access to pasture throughout the lifespan of all animals. Fresh grass and grass forages are the sole source of nutrition, other than mother’s milk before weaning. 

This program consists of the following criteria for livestock:

  • Continuous and unconfined access to pasture throughout the animal’s life cycle. Cattle are never confined to a feedlot.
  • Grass, green or range pasture, or forage is the only energy source throughout the animal’s life cycle.   
  • No added hormones. Livestock have never received hormones (synthetic or natural forms of growth hormones), steroids, or other artificial growth promotants from birth to harvest. 
  • No antibiotics used. Market livestock have never received antibiotics from birth to harvest.
  • Beef Quality Assurance practices (all injections in the animal's neck).
  • A record keeping system for source verification, general herd management, and identification of livestock that may have received pharmaceuticals due to acute illness. These livestock are not sold as retail beef.

Pasture Raising and Grass Feeding:
Mettenburg Farm raises cattle on pasture via a mob grazing protocol. Cattle have continuous and unconfined access to pasture throughout their life cycle. Cattle are never confined to a feedlot. Grass, green or range pasture, or forage is the only energy source throughout the animal’s life cycle. Ruminants are rotated through numerous pasture areas throughout the year. Sacrifice paddocks are used to feed animals prairie, brome, and alfalfa hay during the winter season. When in use animals can enter and leave the sacrifice area from the pasture at-will, with access to grass pasture at all times. The Mettenburg Farm protocol additionally allows for use of sacrifice areas in extreme weather conditions, such as drought or high snowfall. In these scenarios a sacrifice paddock can be used to exclusively feed hay and protect pastures from continued long-term damage.

Hydroponic grasses are grown and fed in the pasture, as additional forage, including barley, rye, and wheat grass. Cattle are provided free choice mineral and trace mineral salt.

It is understood that animals must occasionally be confined in corrals for sorting, vaccination, and medical evaluation. Calves are birthed in the pasture. If a birthing event is deemed at-risk, the cow may be confined to a corral and/or to the back of the barn just prior to birth or during birth. This is necessary to provide medical assistance if needed.

Growth Hormones, Antibiotics and Vaccinations:
Mettenburg Farm utilizes low-stess handling and employs production practices that promote health.

Livestock have never received hormones (synthetic or natural forms of growth hormones), steroids, or other artificial growth promotants from birth to harvest. 

No antibioitics or ionophores are used, unless serious illness mandates treatment. In the event of serious illness or injury, animals will be conventionally medicated and administered antibiotic to minimize suffering and prevent death. Cattle that receive antibiotic as a treatment for an illness or injury are not sold in the Mettenburg Farm wholesale or retail meat supply. They are either sold at weaning via auction, or designated for private family use. Medication and antibiotic treatment is recorded in the Mettenburg Farm herd-book. Animals that have received antibiotics are not separated from the herd unless their condition requires more intensive treatment and confinement.

Breeding, non-market females occassionally undergo estrus synchronization for the timed artificial insemination. This data is recorded in the herd book. The current estrus synchronization system is the CIDR system. Breeding stock undergoing estrus synchronization are not sold in the Mettenburg Farm wholesale or retail meat supply.

All vaccines are required to be administered in the animal's neck and must be traced and verified.

Record Keeping and Documentation:
An electronic herd book is maintained for cattle. Each animal is given a unique numerical identification tag, and a physical description is noted. The herd book is used to record all health records, including birth dates, sex and offspring description, sires, breeding dates, weight records, medications administered, vaccinations, and specific antibiotic administration events. Antibiotic events are highlighted with a backfill color, and the i.d. tag/animal is designated as Not For Sale. Prior to processing any animal for wholesale or retail beef sale, the herd book is consulted to confirm no antibiotics have been administered. 

The herd book is also used to record source verification data, including where livestock are born, raised, fed, harvested, processed, and the name of the producer (if applicable).

Occasionally, animals lose their identification tags. If the replacement tag is a different number, the animal is cross-referenced with both numbers.

All purchased forages have sales receipts that include a description of the hay. A pasture rotation record is kept each year that includes a map of the paddocks and dates of cattle rotation in each. 

Records of all medication purchases and treatments performed at Mettenburg Farm are also located in the office of Cottonwood Animal Hospital. Cottonwood Animal Hospital also records the purpose and class of animals (i.e. cattle, sheep, pig, etc.) for which it provides medications or other treatments.

Source Verification:
When it is necessary to purchase additional outside market animals, they are purchased from other local farmers with whom Mettenburg Farm has a personal acquaintance or long-term relationship. All cattle have full traceability; additionally, these farms’ practices are visible and well known to Mettenburg Farm.  Producer production practices must comport with those of Mettenburg Farm, as outlined here. Producers must sign an affidavit attesting that production practices comport with those of Mettenburg Farm, as outlined here. Purchased animals must be weaned but cannot be greater than one year old. 

All cattle and their mothers must have been born, raised and spent their entire life in the U.S.

Follow this link to browse our selection of grass fed beef cuts.