A grass-fed beef field day will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 20 from 1 to 4 p.m. on the John Ovadal Farm at N1476 County Road E in Watertown. Grass-fed beef is gaining popularity among consumers and there is a small but growing premium market for steers finished with no grain. But finishing a steer on pasture is not an easy thing to do. “This field day will be all about how to ‘do’ grass-fed beef well and we are hoping for some lively discussion among attending producers. Like everything in agriculture, there is no single ‘right’ way to do it,” said Laura Paine, Grazing Specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and organizer of the event.
Dr. Gary Onan from UW-River Falls will demonstrate the use of ultrasound on live animals to determine degree of ‘finish’ and carcass quality. Using some of Ovadal’s grass-finished steers, the demonstration will help participants gain skills in connecting visual characteristics of the live animal with the amount of marbling and back fat observed through ultrasound.
Ovadal grazes about 70 cross-bred cattle on more than 150 acres of pasture. Starting with Simmental cattle, John has focused his breeding on reducing body frame sizes in his herd. He uses small framed bulls from Kit Pharo and has been culling his original cows when he has replacements for them. John is currently selling some animals to Thousand Hills Cattle Company, but has been working with other beef producers to form a Wisconsin Grass-fed Beef Cooperative. Information and membership packets will be available.
We’ll also have presentations on a research project recently started to study cost of production for grass-fed and organic beef production. “This three state project will help participating farmers get a handle on their costs and give us an opportunity to look at the profitability of this industry across Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska,” said Dr. Margaret Smith, Value Added Agriculture Specialist with Iowa State University and coordinator of the project.
This program is sponsored by the Columbia-Dodge Grazing Network and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection with financial support from the Wisconsin GLCI and Northcentral Regional SARE grant programs.
To pre-register or for more information, contact Laura Paine, DATCP: 608-224-5120 or [email protected].