The term grass fed refers to the way in which an animal is “finished” or brought to its prime butchering weight. Many animals in Northeast Iowa are raised on pasture for the majority of their lives, but at a certain weight or age, they are brought to a feedlot where they are fed grain in addition to forages. The increased grain in their diet helps bring the animal to its salable weight faster. An animal that is labeled grass fed will be brought to its salable weight by staying on pasture all or most of its life, with a diet restricted to grasses and legumes.
There is currently no standard or certification to which grass fed producers must adhere to call or label a product “grass fed”. To help consumers better understand Northeast Iowa grass fed standards, grass-based producers from an eleven county area of Northeast Iowa developed a standard that defines the term grass fed and allows them to collectively market their grass fed products. Products labeled “Northeast Iowa Grass Fed” refer to an animal that was raised on pasture or hay its whole life within the counties of Allamakee, Buchanan, Black Hawk, Bremer, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Howard, and Winneshiek.