Nestled into the rolling, lower foothills of majestic Breckenridge Mountain, east of Bakersfield, California sits The Petitt Ranch.
For over 30 years, three generations of the Pettit Family have been raising and producing extraordinary full-flavored beef by feeding their cattle on carrots.
They’ve been feeding carrots to cattle since 1989 and have become masters in their craft.
Cattle graze leisurely among the expansive, lush grasses of the hillsides. To ensure that the incredible beef is infused with extraordinary flavour and vitamins, the cows’ grass diet is increasingly supplemented with fresh juicy carrots as they age.
Over time, as they grow, they can enjoy a 95% carrot-based diet which produces some incredibly flavourful and vitamin-rich beef that is not found anywhere else.
What's the difference between "Fed" and "Finished"?
You will probably have a good understanding of what “grass-fed” beef is by now. It’s in our supermarkets and is usually placed right next to the “normal” beef (usually with a little bit of a markup on price as well).
The benefits of grass-fed beef are numerous, from the improved quality of life for the cow to the additional nutrients for us but what about grass-finished?
Simply put, grass-finished beef comes from cattle that have eaten nothing but grass, forage, and whatever else they find on their roaming for their entire lives.
I thought that was what Grass Fed meant? You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that but it’s just not the case.
Grass-fed, on the other hand, is a label that can be applied to meat from cattle that were only started on a grass diet but have either received supplemental grain feed or are changed to a fully grain-based diet. In fact, many “grass-fed” cows spend the last few months of their lives eating grain in packed feedlots to promote rapid weight gain before slaughter.
This may sound counterintuitive. Grass-Fed implies that the cows are fed purely on grass whereas grass-finished surely means that the cows were only given grass towards the end of or the “finish” of their lives, but the inverse is actually true.
Are there any benefits to feeding cows carrots over grain or grass?
Apparently so! Ken Short of Old Fashion Country Butcher in California had this to say on the Petitt’s carrot fed cattle:
“Grass-finished beef leaves a lot of customers wanting more. These guys are doing something really special. The carrots carry sugar and it makes a dry-aging enzyme reaction that happens like fermenting the wine. Santa Carota has a distinctive advantage. Their feeding program makes all the difference.” – Ken Short
Now Ken knows his meat that’s for sure and what’s really interesting about this family's beef is just how explosive it’s been on the scene. In the making for over 30 years and seemingly only coming to light recently but how does it fare in the kitchen as opposed to the butcher's block?
Jason Hernandez, VP of operations at Eureka! Restaurants had this to say:
“The cookability of the product is great. The moisture content maintains the integrity of the meat. It’s absolutely amazing. We make this burger more like a steak patty. Do you get a great sear on the outside and keep the moisture inside, even cooked medium-well on open flame-you still have a juicy burger. The fat content is much cleaner. And it’s very forgiving in the kitchen.” – Jason Hernandez
So it sounds like this ranches beef is just win after win. It’s happy cows producing quality beef that tastes amazing. What’s not to love?
While carrot feed beef hasn’t quite made it onto our sunny shores just yet, it would pay to keep your eyes peeled for it because beef this good rarely remains a secret for long!