John Andrae: Forage and cattle genetics

John Andrae
Forage Specialist, Clemson Universtiy

With proper management and improved forages beef cattle can find something to eat in Southeastern pastures twelve months out of the year, that's a real advantage for Southeastern beef producers.  In addition the natural and forage fed beef market it growing at a rate of about twenty percent per year.

That’s a real opportunity for our southeastern beef producers to capture value and retain some of the margins instead of sending cattle out to the Midwestern US to finish off on corn.  I'm John Andrae, a Clemson forage specialist, and part of a team of researchers that's looking at ways to improve the ability to produce forage fed beef in the Southeastern U.S. This beef will be healthier for consumers and more profitable for Southeastern beef producers.

Cattle finished on pasture have many names, grass-finished, forage-finished, pasture-finished but no matter what you call it, it has certain nutritional advantages.  It's leaner than grain fed beef; it contains higher amounts of desirable fatty acids and antioxidants than traditional feed lot finished beef. Clemson research has shown that beef cattle naturally produce a potent anticarcinogen, conjugated linoleic acid.  Beef from cattle produced on forage contain about twice the amount of this anticarcinogen than beef produced on typical, grain based diets.

Search for forage and cattle genetics has already begun across the state at Clemson's research farm. We're studying which forage crops are best suited to produce forage fed beef and how these forages interact with meat quality.  More than ever consumers wants their beef produced without antibiotics and pesticides and they want it produced locally. We are helping farmers meet this need and hopefully turn a better profit. Can we do it? The proof will be on the plate.