Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Grassfed Beef - The Preference of Alexander Hyde in the 19th Century

In regard to Grass, Alexander Hyde tells us, “. . . we do not think it has yet generally attained the relative position and attention it deserves among the products of the earth. It is like the air we breathe, so common and so cheap, that we undervalue it. We avoid treading upon the blades of corn, but walk upon the velvety turf without compunction, but the grass “crushed to the earth” rises again, and is found, like truth, to prevail over all its foes.”

What a beautiful quote from the past, what a reverent feeling it invokes for the vast grasslands of America, and how appalled Mr. Hyde would be at the current direction of the United Nations and our Nation in regard to legislating less grass for a cow’s diet and more grain. Mr. Hyde also tells us:

•“We should be sorry to confine our cattle to dry hay alone for the six long months of our winter, but if we can not have both hay and roots, we speak for the hay. It is for the animal what bread is for man, the staff of his life.”
•“Let the cattle graze in pastures luxuriant with white clover, redtop, June and orchard grass, and the beef will be fit to set before an English king or a New York alderman.”
•“We have seen cattle luxuriating in rich pastures, whose flanks and sirloins fairly rolled with fat; and we have no doubt that beef thus made is more healthy than where the animal is confined in a dark stall, condemned to breathe impure air, fed with oil cake, and deprived of all exercise.”
•“It is not because we like corn and roots less that we thus speak, but because we like hay more. . . As there can be no question but that we can raise a hundred pounds of hay at less expense than a bushel of corn or five bushels of carrots, it follows that hay should be the leading crop where crops are raised to be fed out to stock.”
Mr. Hyde sounds like a modern day breeder of grass-fed beef cattle! The term ‘grass-fed’ in regard to beef seems to most a modern term, a new term applied to an old and natural approach to raising cattle. However, Mr. Hyde uses the term himself in the following:

“The quality of the manure depends much on the quality of the food the animal consumes. Grain-fed animals give a much richer manure than grass-fed, and those that ruminate digest their food more thoroughly and extract more nourishment from it than those furnished with only one stomach. A pig may live on the excrement of a horse, but would starve on the excrement of a cow.”

Source:  Agriculture: Twelve Lectures on Agricultural Topics: delivered before the Lowell Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, 1871, Alexander Hyde

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