Which is better, grain-fed or grass-fed beef? That is a question Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is trying to find the answer to; however, early studies have indicated that grass-fed beef not only has less fat, but also has higher conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)--indicating grass-fed may be an all-around healthier choice.
CLA is a mixture of different types of fatty acids; the chemical structure of these acids that are found in plants are changed in animals' digestive systems.
The Project: Grass-Fed Versus Grain-Fed Beef
Virginia Tech--together with West Virginia University and the University of Georgia--is currently in the midst of a 10-year study to find a definitive answer to the question of whether beef made from grass-fed cattle is any healthier for you than grain-fed animals. The goal is to develop pioneering concepts and practices to improve the efficiency and sustainability of grass-fed beef production systems in Appalachia, according to Virginia Tech researchers.
Each phase of the project takes place at a specific organization:
Virginia Tech: Responsible for spring calving, weaning and backgrounding stages of the animals. The cattle are transported to West Virginia University ...
West Virginia University: Steers are held for the stocker stage. Steers go to either a pasture-finishing or a feedlot situation at Virginia Tech's Shenandoah Valley Agriculture Research and Extension Center ...
University of Georgia: Slaughtered meat is evaluated.
During the meat evaluation stage, one rib is taken from each steer and tested for cooking qualities, taste and fat and bone content. Researchers also analyze the meat for minerals, vitamins and fatty acids that are beneficial to human health (i.e. CLA).
Science Daily April 7, 2005
Virginia Tech News March 11, 2005