Producing, processing and marketing forage-finished beef for consumers in the southeastern United States

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2008: $151,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
Chris Kerth
Auburn University, Department of Animal Sciences
Chris Kerth
Texas A&M University


  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: meat


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Farm Business Management: market study, marketing management
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships


    Results indicate that cool-season forage mixtures containing oats were superior to rye plus ryegrass for supporting beef cattle production from winter grazing. Summer annuals supported satisfactory ADG of finishing cattle early in the summer grazing phase, but were unable to sustain satisfactory ADG for the remainder of the season because of rapidly advancing maturity. Processing treatment showed a significant effect on the ability of panelists to detect grassy off-flavors. Curing a product significantly decreased the capacity of panelists to detect grassy flavors. Additionally, aging a control roast for 28 d substantially increased the presence of grass flavors compared to 0 d roasts according to panelists.

    Project objectives:

    Objective 1) Improve cattle producer's knowledge of the product quality traits, management and marketing of forage-fed beef. We will utilize university-owned cattle already identified to run through a mock system to evaluate the growth, carcass, meat quality, and nutritional value of grass-fed beef from different production scenarios.

    Objective 2) Develop a processing and marketing system to support the production of forage-fed beef products. Partnerships already established will be used to foster support of grass-fed beef products to potential markets and utilizing the consumer, processing plant, and marketing data we have already collected, devise a business plan for producing grass-fed beef. Local cattle producer Randall Hastings, the Alabama Department of Agriculture, and the Baldwin County School system have already begun partnerships to produce and market grass-fed beef.

    Objective 3) Develop partnerships between cattle producers and small, local beef processors. The Alabama Cattlemen's Association will assist the researchers in providing public service announcements, outreach publications, and fact papers through distribution channels already established through their monthly magazine.

    Objective 4) Provide farmer and cattle background information to consumers and collect consumers' feedback. By using the Auburn University Lambert-Powell Meat Lab, we will be able to collect all carcass, meat quality, and nutritional value data and provide that information to the producers of the cattle.

    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.