How and Where Are Grassfed Animals Processed?
Humane Abattoirs & Artisan Butchers
We take our animals to one of three different, small-scale, USDA-inspected butcher facilities. The animals are gathered off pasture the day of slaughter in lots of eight or ten, loaded quietly onto our stock-trailer, and hauled to the abattoir. All of these facilities work quietly with the animals and take meticulous care of each individual carcass.
As far as euthanizing animals, the animals are moved up a ramp with curved, solid sides. The ramp is slightly inclined, and with the solid sides the animals move willingly, so there is very little pressure needed to get them to move. All of this is easy and calm for the animals. At the end of the ramp, a door slides down behind the animal, so that the workers are in a safe place to apply the bolt, and the movement of the animal is limited by space, though the animals are not held. The animals are calm and killed instantly and without pain.
We can’t think of a more humane way to do this, other than a perfect shot to the brain while they are out on pasture. A perfect shot, however, is not always possible when the animals are loose, and there are a number of regulations that prohibit ranch harvesting of animals and the subsequent sale of the beef. Our impression is that the animals are not aware of what is going to happen, and there is no panic, discomfort or fear. The workers at the abattoirs work as quietly as possible and use as little stress on the animals as they can.
In other words, we know how the animals are handled while they are at the plant and that the meat we sell has been tracked from animal to carcass to individual cut or pound of ground beef. Our animals are not mixed with other animals, and our beef is cut and processed one animal at a time so you know it’s from a single carcass.
Morris Grassfed carcasses are dry-aged for 12-14 days. This process requires meat with a large, evenly distributed fat content. The effect of dry aging is the concentration and saturation of the natural flavor. The process changes beef in two ways. First, moisture is evaporated from the muscle. This creates a greater concentration of beef flavor and taste. Second, the beef’s natural enzymes break down the connective tissue in the muscle, which leads to more tender beef.
It is far more expensive to do it this way and at this scale, but it is the only way we are interested in seeing it done.
For beef quality, animal husbandry and our own integrity, it behooves us all to take care of the animal at each step of its life. Our animals live perfectly in harmony with their fellow community members, both plant and animal; and they enhance that community—the land– as they live. They are members of the “land,” just as we are. If we require the transformation of their lives into our own as our food, this is a perfectly natural relationship, as is theirs with the grassland plants that sustain them. The only way we can desecrate animals that have become our food is by living lives of dishonorable character. We honor our food animals by making our own lives as integrated into the life of our communities as theirs were.