- Fresh pasture grasses (a mix of native cool and warm season grasses, clover, and summer annual grasses)
- Hay (fresh pasture grass, harvested and stored when dry)
- Haylage (fresh pasture grass which is cut at optimal freshness, stored and covered while moist, thus allowing fermentation)
In addition to high quality forages (grasses), US Wellness cattle receive organic minerals and have constant access to fresh, clean water.
The lamb, bison, goat, and dairy is all produced by the same protocol as the beef - a 100% grass-based diet with no grains or starches.
Why is a grass-based diet so important? Cattle, lambs, bison, and goats (as well animals we don't raise - such as deer, camels, giraffes, alpacas and elk) are ruminant animals. Ruminants were designed to efficiently digest forages. Their complex "stomachs" have four chambers, the first of which is the rumen (hence ruminant). The rumen is important because it begins the process of digesting grass, but allows for regurgitation of the grass for further mechanical breakdown (chewing) - also known as rumination (or "cows chewing their cud"). Ruminants were designed with this complex digestive system specifically for digesting grasses and plants; they were not designed to digest grains. In fact, when ruminants consume large amounts of grain, they are at risk of developing acidosis, where the digestive pH falls to a dangerously acidic level. Acidosis contributes to a myriad of problems in ruminant animals, and can even cause death. This explains why grain-fed cattle are often raised with daily doses of antibiotics - because they were not designed to consume a grain-based diet and, without the intervention of drugs and chemicals, risk illness or death as a result. Not only is grass-fed beef better for you - it is also better for the cattle and the environment; cattle were designed to be raised on grass.
Pigs and chickens, on the other hand, have a completely different digestive system than cows. Pigs and chickens are "monogastrics," meaning they have a single chambered stomach (humans also have a stomach with a single compartment). Monogastric animals were not designed with the ability to break down an entirely grass-based diet; however, monogastric animals do have the digestive enzymes needed to digest a wider variety of proteins and carbohydrates. Thus, monogastrics cannot thrive on grass alone. Now that we've established that the pigs, chickens, and rabbits are not grass-fed, let's take a look at their diets:
Free-range chickens consume a pasture diet with supplemental feed. Supplemental feed is organic, non-GMO and consists of: corn; soybeans; vitamin mineral mix (kelp meal based) with probiotics; fish meal; crab meal; and coquina (seashells for calcium and grit). Supplemental feed makes up NO MORE than 50% of the diet. The majority of the diet is grass, clover, insects and worms. Chickens are moved to fresh pasture every 24 hours and in comparison to conventional chickens, receive only 25% of the amount of supplemental feed. Our chicken producer is currently working toward developing a supplemental feed ration using peanuts as a replacement for soybeans.
Our pork is certified humane, raised using traditional methods (not in confinement) by a network of small family farms in Missouri. Pigs on pasture consume legumes (alfalfa, clover) and any small grains present in the pasture (oats, barley, rye, etc.) as well as supplemental feed. The corn-based supplemental feed is all natural and the animals never receive added hormones, steroids, or antibiotics.
At US Wellness Meats, we mean it when we say "Our animals eat right so you can too!"