You know you can make a difference - we agree!

Nourished Magazine is powered by an online community of people like you, sharing experience, knowledge and passion for living well. Together we remember how to nourish our bodies, our children, our planet. more...


Why Not to Eat Grain Fed Meat

By The Nourisher

Over 1 million head of cattle are grown in feedlots in Australia. Most beef is ‘feedlot finished’ or ‘grain finished’ for a minimum of 60 days and up to 300 days for the domestic market, up to 600 days for the Japanese export market, and even more than 600 days for Wagyu!


A feedlot is an intensive confinement animal feeding operation (CAFO) for cattle, much like a factory for ‘battery chickens’. Each animal has 5 to 10 square metres of space in a pen of 50 to 200 cattle.

The cattle are forced to stand and sleep in their own dung and urine a very unnatural experience for them and one which they are designed to avoid. The dung is becomes ‘hard pack’, which is like concrete when it’s dry and a sewer slurry when it rains. When it’s dry it becomes a dust of primarily faecal particulate, and this causes respiratory problems for the animals (feedlot pneumonia). The cattle are ‘treated’ for these respiratory problems with antibiotics. Some feedlots give ‘constant dosage’ to prevent respiratory problems.

Chemical Control

On arrival at a feedlot the cattle are:
- vaccinated,
- chemically drenched for worms,
- chemically treated for lice and external parasites,
- have a rumen bolus inserted (growth ‘enhancer’ aka hormones)

Bad Diet

CAFO cattle are fed a specially prepared ration (90% grain and protein by products including soy). Cattle are ruminants with 4 stomachs designed to eat roughage (grasses). Instead they are feed a diet of grains, rumen ‘modifiers’ (selective biocides that favour maximum growth), urea (toxic at high levels) and a chemical ‘premix’. Hay or straw is often less than 10% of their diet.

The grains feedlot beef eat are high in pesticides. The soy, corn and cottonseed byproducts are laced with toxic metals and chemicals from their processing.

During the normal digestive process, bacteria in the rumen of cattle, bison, or sheep produce a variety of acids. When animals are kept on pasture, they produce copious amounts of saliva that neutralize the acidity. A feedlot diet is low in roughage, so the animals do not ruminate as long nor produce as much saliva. The net result is “acid indigestion.” or “acidosis”.

Over time, acidosis can lead to a condition called “rumenitis,” which is an inflammation of the wall of the rumen. Eventually, the wall of the rumen becomes ulcerated and no longer absorbs nutrients as efficiently.

Liver abscesses are a direct consequence of rumenitis. As the rumen wall becomes ulcerated, bacteria are able to pass through the walls and enter the bloodstream. Ultimately, the bacteria are transported to the liver where they cause abscesses. From 15 to 30 percent of feedlot cattle have liver abscesses.

Bloat is a fourth consequence of a feedlot diet. All ruminants produce gas as a by-product of digestion. When they are on pasture, they belch up the gas without any difficulty. When they are switched to an artificial diet of grain, the gasses can become trapped by a dense mat of foam. In serious cases of bloat, the rumen becomes so distended with gas that the animal is unable to breathe and dies from asphyxiation.

Feedlot polio is yet another direct consequence of switching animals from pasture to grain. When the rumen becomes too acidic, an enzyme called “thiaminase” is produced which destroys thiamin or vitamin B-1. The lack of vitamin B-1 starves the brain of energy and creates paralysis. Cattle that are suffering from feedlot polio are referred to as “brainers.”

Typically, feedlot managers try to manage these grain-caused problems with a medicine chest of drugs, including ionophores (to buffer acidity) and antibiotics (to reduce liver abscesses). A more sensible and humane approach is to feed animals their natural diet of pasture, to which they are superbly adapted.

Why Confine Cattle?

CAFOs are often excused as solutions to drought. Truthfully though, feedlot managers profit from unnatural growth rates, up to 2kg per day and sometimes more. 200 – 220kg steers take only 100 days to grow to 450kg. By comparison it would take a grass fed steer at least 9 months to achieve the same weight gains.

How do I know which is grass fed?

Firstly, it’s in the fat. Grass fed beef’s fat is various shades of creamy yellow, the result of the beta carotene content of the grass. Grain fed beef’s fat is usually transparent white. Grain finishing or feedlotting, changes the omega 6 and 3 ratio from the ideal of 3:1, to the unhealthy range of 24:1 Grass fed beef has the same healthy ratio of essential omega 3 and 6 fatty acids as found in fish. This change happens after only one week on grain.
Secondly, the taste gives it away. Grain fed beef may be more tender but it tastes like cardboard compared to pasture raised beef. When you taste properly prepared grass fed meat, you’ll know it’s good because it tastes good.

A Super Hero and one of many who have realised their true calling as saviors of humanity, healers of our connection with Nature and creators of Heaven on Earth. The Nourisher's gift is the re-spiritualisation of the 'process of recreation' we call eating. Mother of three Super Heroes in training and wife to her God incarnate, The Nourisher hails from the place of feminine healing, Byron Bay, Australia. She gathers together Life Creators from all over the globe at

Subscribe to receive our free monthly newsletter.

COMMENTS - 13 Responses

  1. How about a side by side comparison of methods of slaughter? Do any of you kill your own cows that you eat?

  2. Slaughter is an uncomfortable reality of eating meat. Unfortunately in Australia, it is becoming impossible for smaller abattoirs to function. It would be great to be able to share farm with animal producers and support smaller regional abattoirs or even butcher on the farm. I heard around the traps that there’s a verse in the bible about an ancient law which says the job of slaughter must be shared with each man in the community. Any one know about that? I guess that would save the psychological damage doing that job must have on the individuals as well as limit the cruelty that desensitized humans can do to animals. Obviously, the honour given to the animals that is hunted by an Aboriginal tribe is the ultimate but how can we bring decency into animal death for our Nourishment? Wendy recently wrote about her local butcher and this issue.

  3. 3. Cathy Mifsud
    Dec 12th, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Wow. This is awful.
    Thanks for this information, I had no idea. I’ve been buying non organic meat from my local butcher who doesn’t even know where their meat comes from ( i’ve asked many times ) sometimes because the organic beef is way too expensive. Going to have to work on this one because as of right now, I will not support this awful treatment of our beautiful cows. I will forward on this article to all of my friends. My goodness, I did not know.
    Thanks very much for this story.
    I agree about slaughter needing to be a burden of the whole community. We would appreciate our meat more by being involved, even if it were just once. Like growing and eating ones own vegies we are nourished on another level, it must be the same with meat.

    Is there any where especially I could write a letter/s asking for this to stop?

  4. We have had animals killed for slaughter on farm.
    The animal is shot in the paddock by the butcher with a high powered rifle and drops straight away. They are not chased or harassed at all.
    I cannot think of any way where animals can be slaughtered at the works without fear and abuse coming into the equation. Cattle are very sensitive beings and display an awareness of what is going on. Some other animals are even more aware or at least more vocal. There used to be a place near Cranbourne when I was a child that processed goats and horses, the goats would cry like babies and you could hear the horses screaming.
    We owned an engineering business and one of our boilermakers (who was a real redneck) came back from doing a job at a pet food abattoir near Albury in tears at some of the things he saw happen to the horses which I will not go into here.
    As to the honour given to an animal by the aboriginal hunters being the ultimate….have you seen this yourself? I have seen them hunt in the outback of Queensland and NT with no evidence of that - the animals were merely bludgeoned to death and some took too long IMHO to die. On the other hand, I have witnessed a Native American
    (Navajo) hunter ritually prepare himself to get an elk for his family to eat and there was great reverence for the animal and gratitude for feeding his family over winter.
    The facts are that abattoirs be it for poultry or animals are incapable of treating animals with kindness or compassion given the awareness of the animals and the type of person who could perform that job. I am sure that if most people could see what goes on they would become vegetarians.

  5. Thanks for the great post. I’m in America and it’s even worse here of course but most of the issues are the same. I am hopeful that slowly but surely people are realizing what they are really eating and that they do have alternatives.

  6. Wondering if feeding oats to cattle has the same effect on the meat as does feeding corn, barley, wheat, etc. I raise commercial cattle and Dexters and oats is the only grain our animals get any more in the winter. It is just too cold for them not to get some grain.

  7. 7. Samuel Smith
    Dec 14th, 2009 at 2:02 am

    This article is terribly biased and misleading.

  8. A very interesting topic which most of us ignore, unfortunately for our food providers ie animals etc, how many of us have ever killed a Chicken??, I have and am sure many others also. I have worked as a Manager on an Aboriginal Community and hunted Kangaroos for the Old People, most Kangaroos are wounded but tribal law forbids killing them by shooting as they believe their spirit passes into them when they die so they must be clubbed to death as this is the death of a warrior.

  9. This article is based on US data and as Samuel Smith noted is misleading. The author should be ashamed of themselves for peddling sensationalist claptrap.

  10. Hi there,
    That artical did have alot of facts….I think it is saying dont raise your stock on a small-bare area with no grass weeds ect. That is very true…..anyone not think so?

    As for giving your stock a bit of a treat like Ruth……that is a great way to keep them friendly so they are easy to “harvest”.

    We have had a fram butcher out many times and found it great, we dont grain feed much……how ever would like to give it a try. If you only ate apples….would you be sick? YES

    So does that mean we should not eat apples….NO

    As for the law, as far as I know in QLD the meat is to stay on the place were it was killed(FARM).
    So that would been, no giving to friends ect.

    It sounds sort of clear.

  11. I agree with samuel. Sure, some of its true, but a lot of it is just misleading.
    For egample the point on cattle getting acidosis. Sure, its well known fact that changing animals from grass fed to grain fed can cause acidosis, but if the cattle get sick, they loose weight, and that is not the point of a feedlot. So obvioustly feedlot workers and managers try to stop the problem. This can be done by slowly changing the diet or i think there was an additive (im thinking it was either gypsum or lime but i forgive me, i cant remember. Our cattle are grassfed and we havent spoken about feedlotting rations properly at college yet).
    Also, the point about the lung infections due to the dust, and them having to give stock a ‘constant dosage’ of antibiotics to prevent it. If they are preventing the problems, why does it matter? Its just like eating fatty foods then excersising to make sure you dont gain weight. You have prevented the problem and dont get sick, so it becomes redundant.
    The point is, animals who are unhappy or sick loose weight, so its in our best intrests to make them happy. Contrary to popular belief, we do not torture animals to save money. The jobs that need to be done are done as quickly as possible (dehorning and castration, both to protect other members of the herd but yes, castration does help with quality) so as to reduce stress and get them back to where they can relax and grop…

  12. Constant use of antibiotics on cattle is the stupidiest thing I’ve ever heard, it devalues the quality of all the antiobiotics we use, thousands of bacteria are being vaccinated for every tool we have and creates perfect conditions for disease having billions of mammals worldwide constantly fighting infection.

    “Drug resistance in food-borne pathogens is an unfortunate but almost inevitable consequence of the use of antimicrobials in food animals.”

    “Of the 1415 pathogens known to affect humans, 61% are zoonotic.” That is they came from animals from prolonged exposure or while immune comprimised (meaning young and elderly as well)

    Alot of the worst disease we have came from constant exposure to raw meat (so everyone getting involved is a terrible idea).

    “Many modern diseases, even epidemic diseases, started out as zoonotic diseases. It is hard to be certain which diseases jumped from other animals to humans, but there is good evidence that measles, smallpox, influenza, HIV, and diphtheria came to us this way. The common cold, and tuberculosis may also have started in other species.”

  1. 1 Food – Is Any Food Good for Us Anymore? (or what’s the point in worrying?) « Mother Food Issues Pingback on Mar 25th, 2011 at 5:17 pm

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture.
Anti-Spam Image

Recent Sponsor’s Posts

Recent Discussions