Grass-Fed Beef in the Southeast: from Seed to Plate

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2016: $83,185.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2019
Grant Recipient: Mississippi State University
Region: Southern
State: Mississippi
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Brandi Karisch
Mississippi State University


  • Agronomic: annual ryegrass, grass (misc. annual), grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: meat


  • Animal Production: grazing management, meat product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: extension, workshop


    Mississippi State University in collaboration with Auburn University and Tuskegee University developed
    trainings and hosted a conference to educate beef producers and extension agents about grass-fed beef in
    the southeast. The major objective of this program was to deliver educational information to beef
    producers through local and regional extension agents to aid in their production of a high quality grass
    fed beef product that is currently in demand by local consumers. Agents were  trained in 5 hands on
    modules: Forage, Cattle, Harvest and Meat Quality, Food Safety and Legal, and Economics and
    Marketing. Agents then delivered this training to clientele in their region. A multi-state grass-fed beef conference that will highlighting management practices from the training program twas held, along with a field day and beef focused workshop. It is
    anticipated that through the trainings and conference, practices will be impacted that will allow beef
    producers in rural Mississippi and Alabama to improve the profitability and sustainability of their farms
    while improving environmental stewardship and management practices. The impact of this program was
    evaluated through end of session surveys of all participants designed to assess 1) the relevance of the
    topics/speakers at the conference, 2) anticipated use of presented practices and 3) total acreage/area
    impacted. This provided needed feedback to adjust future educational programs, and provide
    preliminary data on clientele who plan to implement these management strategies.

    Project objectives:

    1. Primary objectives: Train the Trainer Programs
    Target Audience: Extension agents (regional and county level)
    a. To increase the knowledge of trainees in the areas of forage-fed beef finishing systems
    b. To increase the trainees confidence in a forage-finished beef product and embrace this
    practice as sustainable.
    c. To enable the trainees to embrace a new, client base and provide new marketing
    venues for this clientele.
    d. To increase the trainees ability to assist producers to have a profitable enterprise
    through forage management and animal genetics.
    e. To provide tools to trainees to have the ability to accept both producers and consumers
    into their training program.
    2. Secondary objectives: Producer Education Programs
    a. Provide a value-added market for their cattle
    b. Provide an informed, regional, contact person for farmers
    c. Encourage farmers to incorporate beef into their existing crop/forage programs
    d. Provide educational resources through course materials
    e. Increase economic impact within local communities as farmers will retain or purchase
    cattle, supplies, etc., to finish on forages.
    f. Teach farmers to optimize genetics and identify animals who will gain and finish rapidly
    on forage systems – thus decreasing age at slaughter and environmental impacts.
    3. Tertiary objective: Consumer
    a. Provide consumers with information to know differences between forage-finished and
    grain-finished beef
    b. Teach consumers that all beef is sustainable and that management system is a choice
    c. Provide consumers with a ‘local’ product, thus improving economic impact on rural

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.