Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean when you say I am buying an interest in a steer?
We do not sell prepackaged meat like steaks, roasts, or burgers. We custom grow cattle for our customers. When you place an order, you are asking us to finish raising a steer that is currently on our ranch and scheduled to be finished by a pre-scheduled date. Your deposit is for the purchase of the steer that is currently live on the hoof. We remove that steer’s number from our available inventory and technically speaking, transfer ownership of half or the entire steer to you. When completed, the steer is delivered to the processor in your name, not ours. Your final payment concludes the purchase of the live steer that began with your deposit.
Why do you consider your grass-fed beef to be Prime grade?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has eight grades for beef. The three main grades that the public buys are Prime, Choice and Select. Beef by definition is graded Prime, the highest standard, when produced from young cattle that are well-fed, and have moderate to abundant marbling.
Our cattle are brought in for processing at 16 months of age. Far sooner than commercial operators that can finish their cattle as late at 30-42 months. The young age of our cattle results in a much more tender product.
Our cattle are extremely well-fed. They are not portion fed and instead are free fed, having continually access (24/7) to a high protein, high calorie diet consisting of premium alfalfa and drover grass hay, as well as clean water. This results in a well finished steer with a proper cover fat that is important during the dry-aging process. Our grass-fed beef is leaner than grain-fed, but still has very good marbling (the amount of intramuscular fat within the meat).
For the most part, the USDA does not include grass-fed beef in their grading. Ultimately, it is due to the fact that their principal grading comes from the type of marbling that is specific to grain-fed cattle. Since most cattle in the U.S. are grain-fed, this became the benchmark for quality. Regardless, we feel that our grass-fed beef is a premium product that meets and exceeds the grade of U.S.D.A Prime grade used for grain-fed beef grown by commercial producers.
Grass-Fed Beef vs. Corn or Grain-Fed Beef: What’s the difference in taste?
Cattle in the United States begin by drinking milk and move to eating grass on pasture. During the time that they are in what is called the finishing process—starting at about seven months of age or later—animals can be left to graze on grass or hay, or they may be moved to a specific diet of corn or grain, along with by-product feed ingredients, which include things like potato hulls or sugar beets.
Both methods have an effect on the taste and texture of the final beef product. There really is not a right or wrong method to finishing cattle. It all comes down to a matter of preference of taste and health concerns.
Corn or grain-finished beef
Corn or grain-fed beef has been popular in America for decades and is necessary to meet the production demands of the buying public. Grain-fed cattle put weight on quicker and finish faster than grass fed.
It is well-marbled with a slightly sweet beef flavor that most Americans are accustomed to and expect. Grain-fed beef has a lower percentage of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, and generally has a higher percentage of saturated and inflammatory fats. In addition, grain can strip away the natural flavor of the beef which is normally substituted by the level of marbling or intramuscular fat. Fat, although not healthy for our cardiovascular systems, does taste good.
Grain feeding is considered an unnatural diet; however, it can be finished much faster to meet commercial demands. Regardless, a young, grain-fed steer can produce very good results for both the producer and the consumer.
Grass-fed beef is leaner than corn/grain fed and has a subtle difference in taste. Some refer to it as having a more intense beef flavor. It has a higher percentage of healthy and anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), and a lower percentage of saturated fats than grain-fed beef. It also contains high quality protein and various lesser-known nutrients, such as creatine and carnosine, which are very important for your muscles and brain. Grass-fed beef generally contains higher amounts of healthy nutrients so many consumers prefer grass-fed beef, not only for a more rich and flavorful taste, but for beneficial health effects as well.
A grass-fed steer consisting of a diet of only grasses is considered a natural diet; however, it takes longer to finish and cannot meet commercial demands. For this reason, grass-fed beef producers are typically much smaller operations that cater to private individuals or groups.
How long will a half beef last me?
Our typical customer, a family of four, will order a half beef once a year. We also have customers that entertain more, barbeque often, enjoy smoking meats, or simply consume more beef. A half beef will typically last them closer to nine months.
We always suggest people start off with a half beef and not over order. You can always order again if you are using more than expected. Better to order smaller amounts more frequently than to order too much. This is why we offer processing dates 10 months out of the year. If you think you are running low, just call us and we will put you on the schedule.
Why should I buy from a local ranch?
Our program started because we wanted to know where our food came from and how it was being raised and treated. We found that, on average, a mass-produced commercial steer could go through as many as ten steps before we purchased it as a beef product in our local store. Our program involves basically just two steps: us and the processor.
Commercial ranches that mass produce cattle can deal with tens of thousands of cattle a year. Most small local ranches, like ours, will grow and produce fewer than a hundred. This allows them to focus their attention on the quality of their herd and not the quantity. Even if you do not buy from DSR Cattle, you should seriously consider using a local grass-fed producer. We think you should know where your food is coming from.
Why is your program different?
Simply put, customer service. Our prices are very competitive for grass-fed and finished, naturally raised beef, but it is the additional customer service that you receive that makes our beef such a great value and keeps our customers coming back. In addition to the great care and pride we have in raising and finishing your cattle, we developed our program to assist you in every step. From helping you to understand the different cuts of meat and filling out the cut sheets, to delivering your steer to the processor, as well as delivering the finished product directly to you. Every step is important to us, as is your satisfaction with the end results.
Many of our customers become friends, and we know them personally. We don’t just want you to let us grow your steer this year, we want you to let us do it every year. More than 75% of all our new orders are from recommendations of current customers, and that speaks volumes to us!
How long does it take to get on your schedule?
On any given year we are taking orders three to four months in advance. Repeat customers take up a large part of our scheduling. Once you are part of the program it’s easy to keep ordering.
What is meant by an average of 30% savings over store-bought beef?
Depending on how you have your beef trimmed and cut by the processor, your all-in cost of the final package weight is in the $9.95lb range. That is for all your cuts. From ground beef, to roasts, to the top steak cuts.
When compared to the same grass-fed quality beef at the store, you can pay as much as $10lb for ground beef. However, when you start to get into Briskets at $14lb, Roasts at $13lb, NY Strips and T- Bones at $20lb, Ribeye at $22lb, Tenderloin at $30lb, the savings is far more substantial.
So, even though some savings is as high as 70% on the very top end, we base it on usage and the amount of each cut that is available in a half or whole beef and buying habits.
What are the different weights of cattle?
It may sound confusing, but it’s not once you know the differences. There are three different weights most commonly used.
Live Weight: Or sometimes referred to as on the hoof. Just as it sounds, it is the weight of the animal while on or just before it leaves the ranch.
Hang Weight: This is the weight of the beef after it has gone through its initial processing or harvesting but has not been cut or trimmed for your order. It is now hanging in the processor’s cooler, dry aging at this point, typically for 14 days or more. Hang weight is typically 50-55% of the live weight on average.
Package weight: This is the weight of the individual packages that make up your order. The beef has been cut to order, trimmed, and packaged. This is the weight of the beef you will put in your freezer. Packaged weight is typically 65% of the hanging weight on average.
What about freezers?
A half beef will require about 8 cubic feet and a full beef about 16 cubic feet. You should hold your beef at a temperature of -10 degrees or less for best results. The lower the temperature, the better it will hold. We hold our beef at -15 degrees. Please check your freezer setting throughout the year. Good temperature gauges are inexpensive, and we recommend dial over digital.