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A Recipe for Change: dan Glenn on Grass-fed Beef Genetics

Producing flavorful grass-fed beef depends on the proper breed and genetic makeup to add fat and protein efficiently. It’s important for ranchers to know what to consider and the traits to look for when assembling a quality grass-fed heard.
Dan Glenn is a farmer and rancher at Deep Grass Graziers in Fitzgerald, Ga which has been run by his family for four generations. By using the best cattle genetics, feeding them high quality forages, and handling them as humanely as possible, Glenn is able to produce healthier grass-finished beef. Glenn will present at the 18th Annual Georgia Organics Conference, Recipe for Change: Better Farms, Better Flavors, which will be held on Feb. 20-21, 2015, at the Classic Center in Athens, Ga. We spoke to him about his expertise and the grass-fed beef industry.
What kind of changes have you seen in the grass-fed beef industry over the years?
The production side is growing very fast, mostly with small scale producers, and a handful of larger, more sophisticated and integrated programs.
Do Georgia ranchers generally share best practices with each other in regards to breeding and genetic best practices?
Georgia ranchers, for the most part, are very open with their production practices. Intellectual property isn’t a term that gets in the way of our relationships. Part of this is because demand is much greater than supply, and part of this is because we didn’t get into cows to conquer the world.
What’s the most misunderstood aspect of grass-fed beef that consumers need to know about?
High quality grass fed beef at scale requires very intensive management, and deserves the premium it typically garners. However, the variation in product from one farm to another is extreme. A consumer should educate themselves about the production practices of each farm they would consider buying product from.
Do you have a favorite breed of cattle (or two)? If so, why?
It’s hard to beat pure old-line angus genetics for fattening on forage. However, most of the British bloodlines that have stayed true to their original breeding will typically work.
What surprised you the most when you launched into a career as a grass-fed beef rancher?
How difficult it would be to do well, and how much I would enjoy the process.

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