We raise the cattle for Mariposa Ranch or we buy them from other family ranchers that raise their cattle like we do: on natural grasses and roughage feeds, not in confinement or feedlots. We think that this is the way nature intended cattle to grow and we choose to respect that. We produce Angus or Angus crossbred cattle because of their superior meat quality. Since we sell directly to the consumer we think it's important to raise cattle that will produce the best beef.
Grass fed beef is the most natural way to produce beef. The cattle for Open Space Meats are put out to graze on grasses and forage, never put in feedlots. Some grass fed beef programs feed their cattle roughage diets in feedlots, and some will supplement their cattle with corn and grains. Not at Open Space Meats. Our cattle eat in the pasture not a feedlot, and our cattle eat only grasses and clovers. We think that it is important if you really want natural grass fed beef and all the benefits that go along with it, you should insist your beef be raised on pasture. We think it's the only way to do this honestly, so ask if your not sure, remember you're the customer and you have the right to know.
Commodity Cattle Production
In most parts of the United States, particularly here in the west, most cattle are born in pastures on the open range. When cattle are born under these more natural conditions they are healthier and stronger than if they were born in a barn or under close confinement. Believe it or not pastures and rangelands are much cleaner and have fewer pathogenic germs than any stall or barn. This is because nature has a way of cleaning out the range, it's called rain (sometimes snow). That's right, once again nature knows best.
Since most cattle in the west are born on pastures, aren't they all grass fed?
Well, yes and no. Most cattle do eat grass for a portion of their lives, but in the last six months or so they are moved to a feedlot for fattening. It is here that they are implanted with hormones to make them grow faster, fed concentrated feed grains that is hard for them to digest, and receive sub-therapeutic antibiotics in the feed. In the feedlot, cattle are managed to be as efficient as they can be, regardless of what the natural genetics and growth curve of the cattle are. That means some cattle will end up smaller than they were genetically determined to be, and many will be larger and heavier than they were genetically determined to be. These cattle will be fed in this manner until they deposit approximately an inch to an inch and a half of fat under their hide. Since cattle in feedlots are crowded together in pens they do not have room to roam around, as cattle instinctively tend to do. Also since the cattle have little space, in the wintertime mud and manure build-up become big problems in the feedlot. It is estimated that cattle can loose up to 25% efficiency due to lack of mobility from mud and manure. Plainly stated, the cattle expend that energy just trying to slog through mud and muck. Also since most feedlots do not have any kind of cover in their pens many cattle are exposed to weather rather than move somewhere sheltered like brush, trees or canyons.
So then why do we feed cattle this way?
Because we can. Sorry to be blunt, but in the U.S. cattle producers and farmers only started feeding cattle grains around the end of WWII. The US had excess corn after the war and needed something to do with it, so they started feeding it to cattle. The cattle got real fat and the public's taste shifted to corn fed beef and has stayed there ever since. Grass fed beef is not new, in fact it is as old as beef itself, it's just that we are a generation or more away from grass fed beef on a large scale. Please don't misunderstand; commercial cattle producers and feedlots operators raise cattle in this manner because it is the way the beef industry has developed. Not because they are bad people! At Mariposa Ranch we think we have a better system. Better for the cattle, better for the environment and most of all better for you!