Australian cattle and sheep farmers are custodians of 47% of the continent and this great Southern land encapsulates a range of climatic, topographical and geological conditions. As such, and to ensure the consistent supply of Australian beef and lamb, there are two main livestock production systems in Australia - grassfed and grainfed.
For an animal to be classified as grass fed it means that they have spent their entire life grazing pastures. Due to seasonal conditions, many farmers supplementary feed their cattle on a range of feedstocks like hay or silage and in some cases even grain. Cattle registered under the Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System (PCAS) have more specific regulations around supplementary feeding.
In Australia the majority of cattle are raised on grass however variations in seasonal and geographic factors influence the style and quality of beef produced. Grass fed beef is often said to have a robust flavour.
Grain fed beef comes from cattle that have spent part of their lives being fed a ration of grain in a feedlot in order to achieve a more consistent product. On average, cattle that are grain fed spend between 50 – 120 days on grain after having spent the majority of their lives on grass.
Grain fed beef is known to have increased marbling, and a tender, mild taste.
There is also Grain-assisted beef, where some producers supplement the grass diet of their cattle with grain which they distribute to them in the paddocks.
All Australian cattle spend the majority of their lives in an open range, grass fed environment. If cattle do go to a feedlot, the average period of time spent there is between 50-120 days or around 10-15% of their lifespan.
Organic means that the beef or lamb was raised in an environment that was free of synthetic chemicals, herbicides and pesticides. Under Organic Certification the use of antibiotics, hormones, preservatives, growth promotants and genetically modified organisms are banned.
When the producer has undertaken an organic certification to ensure buyers that their product is organic, it is called Certified Organic.