A Local Pasture-Based Beef Production System for Northwest Michigan

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2012: $181,342.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Jason Rowntree
Michigan State University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: grazing management, grazing - rotational, stocking rate

    Proposal abstract:

    The Traverse Bay Economic Development Corporation and Michigan Good Food Charter are working to develop local food production and distribution systems to source 20% of the food for the Traverse City area within a 100-mile radius by 2020. The plan also states the meat portion of supply should be pasture-based. To achieve this pasture-based livestock supply, producer and culinary education must be greatly enhanced. The project goal is to develop a pilot for a Northwest Michigan beef production system by connecting area beef producers, local processors, distributors and retailers in order to begin to meet the 20% benchmark. Two grass-finishing systems: an irrigated rotational system and a high stock density system will be demonstrated at Lake City Research Center to obtain economic and production data. Additionally, these data will be used in the formation of the Grand Vision Grass-fed Certification Program (GVGC) to educate Northwest Michigan on sustainable beef production. To complete the value chain, grass finished beef carcasses from the Center will be used in demonstrations with a local packer, food distributors and area culinary experts to assess cutout and increase carcass utilization. Extension peer-reviewed media will be developed for grass finishing results and food system development. Twenty producers will be identified for GVGC, which includes on-farm assessment, pasture development, curriculum completion and the development of smartphone tools for grazing arithmetic. Carcass cutout and value-added beef cut preparation demos will be conducted. Other outputs include deriving budgets for two grass finishing systems along with carcass cutout. Short-term outcomes include participating producer grass finishing competency and increased awareness of value added beef cuts to increase whole carcass utilization. Intermediate outcomes include marketing 200 head of participating producer cattle through the pilot value chain. This will serve as an evidenced shift in distributor purchasing, retail counters and menus of participating foodservice operation.

    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.