State of Grass Fed &State of Grass Fed &
Role of EpigeneticsRole of Epigenetics
Allen Williams, Ph.D.Allen Williams, Ph.D.
Grass Fed Insights, LLCGrass Fed Insights, LLC
U.S. Beef Industry
23-30% decrease in prices for all classes ofdecrease in prices for all classes of
cattle since August 2015.cattle since August 2015.
U.S. Beef exports declined 18% in 2015.U.S. Beef exports declined 18% in 2015.
Beef imports increased 33% in 2015.Beef imports increased 33% in 2015.
Feedlot losses at $4.7 Billion in 2015.Feedlot losses at $4.7 Billion in 2015.
Value of Grass Fed Beef Market
– 100+ serious grass fed beef producers
– $4-$5 million retail value – Domestic
– Industry in infancy
– More than $3.2 billion+ sold in U.S.
$550+ million domestic
$2.5+ billion+ imported
– More than 3700 producers involved.
– Growing @ 25-30% rate annually.
Has reached 7.2% Market share.
Domestic Grass Fed Production
July 2014 – July 2015
– Total of approximatelyTotal of approximately 225,000 headhead
Branded and Direct MarketBranded and Direct Market
– 184,000 harvested by branded programsharvested by branded programs ((82%82%
of totalof total))
– Top 15 grass fed branded programsgrass fed branded programs
harvestedharvested 122,000 headhead (54% of total; 66% of(54% of total; 66% of
– 41,000 head direct marketed (18% of total)(18% of total)
– 97 million lbs Domestic GF Beef producedDomestic GF Beef produced
JBS purchased Grass Run FarmsJBS purchased Grass Run Farms
Grassfed hamburger offered in all Carl’s JR. andGrassfed hamburger offered in all Carl’s JR. and
Hardee’s restaurantsHardee’s restaurants
Outback Restaurants now offer 100% GrassfedOutback Restaurants now offer 100% Grassfed
ABP Food Group-Sysco – Further expandedABP Food Group-Sysco – Further expanded
grass fed marketgrass fed market
USDA AMS revokes “Grass Fed Standard”USDA AMS revokes “Grass Fed Standard”
– USDA AMS PVPUSDA AMS PVP
– USDA FSISUSDA FSIS
Cargill now integrally involved.Cargill now integrally involved.
Bill Helming and RaboBank ProjectionsBill Helming and RaboBank Projections
– Grassfed beef will bewill be 30%+ of total domesticof total domestic
beef market share withinbeef market share within 5-8 years
– Beef production will segment into:
Commodity, All Natural, Organic, Grass
Fed (Lean & High Quality), Non-GMO Grain
Grass Fed Dairy Growing
Dreaming Cow Dairy
Maple Hill Creamery
Traders Point Creamery
Trickling Springs Creamery
Natural by Nature
Economic DataEconomic Data
University Studies and Farm/Ranch Case StudyUniversity Studies and Farm/Ranch Case Study
data show:data show:
– Takes average ofTakes average of 0.8 – 1.2 acres0.8 – 1.2 acres per head to finishper head to finish
– More than enough available acres to finishMore than enough available acres to finish 3030
million+million+ head annually in U.S.head annually in U.S.
– Skilled grass finishers netSkilled grass finishers net $300 - $500+$300 - $500+ per acreper acre
– Build soilBuild soil rather than deplete.rather than deplete.
Recent Industry Survey - Beef
• AMI Consumer Survey – 2014
– Over 67% have purchased natural, organic, and
Grass Fed meats in past year.
– 25-42 age group most likely to purchase.
– Key Drivers:
• Human Health
• Animal Care and Welfare
• Better nutrition & Variety
• Better taste
• Environmental Concerns
“What’s Hot” Survey
• National Restaurant Association
–Survey of 1,000 chefs
–Smaller entrée items
–More grass fed items
–Natural, organic, sustainable,
locally or regionally grown
National Restaurant Association
• Top Menu Trends – 1,500 chefs
• Top Three Trends:
– Locally or Regionally Sourced Meats
– Healthy Children’s Dishes
– Food Trucks
• Other Important trends:
– Back to basics Foods
– Farm-Branded Foods and ingredients
– Organic and artisan food products
Market Research Focus GroupsMarket Research Focus Groups
– 2006 Study– 2006 Study
• Retailers & Restaurants
• Wholesale & Distribution
• Medical, Health
• Consumer Cross Segment
Market Research Results - 2006
• High Acceptance Rate
• Potential to capture 20-22% of
beef market share
• $15-$17 Billion in Sales Potential
• Capture Non-Beef Eaters
What Are Current Protocols?
““All Natural”All Natural”
– No growth hormones administeredNo growth hormones administered
– No antibiotics – therapeutic or sub-therapeuticNo antibiotics – therapeutic or sub-therapeutic
– No IonophoresNo Ionophores
– No chemical pesticides or herbicides appliedNo chemical pesticides or herbicides applied
when cattle are present…when cattle are present…
Cattle raised on “open range”Cattle raised on “open range”
– No confinement, except for inclement weatherNo confinement, except for inclement weather
Grass fed onlyGrass fed only
– No grains, mature corn, or animal byproductsNo grains, mature corn, or animal byproducts
Supplements - ???Supplements - ???
– Molasses from cane sugar.Molasses from cane sugar.
– Other allowed supplements??Other allowed supplements??
Soyhulls, Haylage, Baleage, Non-Grain SilageSoyhulls, Haylage, Baleage, Non-Grain Silage
Grain byproducts?Grain byproducts?
– DDGs, Wet Corn Gluten, Wheat Mids, ….DDGs, Wet Corn Gluten, Wheat Mids, ….
Handling & CareHandling & Care
– Cattle handled in low stress manner??Cattle handled in low stress manner??
– Humane practices used for gathering, sorting,Humane practices used for gathering, sorting,
loading, transport, and slaughter.loading, transport, and slaughter.
– GAP Program, AWA, Food Alliance, etc….GAP Program, AWA, Food Alliance, etc….
– AGA, USDA Grassfed PVP, AWA, FoodAGA, USDA Grassfed PVP, AWA, Food
Alliance, Audubon Bird-Friendly, ……Alliance, Audubon Bird-Friendly, ……
What Does This Mean for
Branded program implicationsBranded program implications
Direct Market implicationsDirect Market implications
Grass Fed beef segregationGrass Fed beef segregation
– Imported vs. domesticImported vs. domestic
– Lean vs. High QGLean vs. High QG
What Are Primary Aspects of
Five Main Areas of Focus:Five Main Areas of Focus:
– Animal Handling - at all stages of lifeAnimal Handling - at all stages of life
– Slaughter & Processing (fabrication, furtherSlaughter & Processing (fabrication, further
processing, packaging, etc…)processing, packaging, etc…)
– Costs of ProductionCosts of Production
Feedlot Style “Grass Fed” Beef – TMRFeedlot Style “Grass Fed” Beef – TMR
Imported Grass Fed and lack of COOL.Imported Grass Fed and lack of COOL.
Lack of strong Pastured Protein TradeLack of strong Pastured Protein Trade
Certification that consumer trusts.Certification that consumer trusts.
No national brand awarenessNo national brand awareness
– Confused consumersConfused consumers
– Label deceptionLabel deception
What is Epigentics?
The study of changes in organismsThe study of changes in organisms
caused by modification of genecaused by modification of gene
expression rather than alteration of theexpression rather than alteration of the
genetic code itself.genetic code itself.
– Most genes can have significant variation inMost genes can have significant variation in
the degree to which they express themselves.the degree to which they express themselves.
– Environmental factors, includingEnvironmental factors, including
management, diet, climate, etc. --- allmanagement, diet, climate, etc. --- all
influence gene expression.influence gene expression.
Cow Herd AttributesCow Herd Attributes
Must have greatMust have great longevitylongevity
SoundSound feet & legsfeet & legs,, eyes, udder & teats, teetheyes, udder & teats, teeth..
Low to moderateLow to moderate milkmilk
HighlyHighly adaptedadapted to their environmentto their environment
Moderate frameModerate frame (BIF Frame Score 3.5-5.5)(BIF Frame Score 3.5-5.5)
– Bulls = 52 – 56 inchesBulls = 52 – 56 inches
– Cows = 48 – 52 inchesCows = 48 – 52 inches
AdequateAdequate depth, thickness, and gut capacitydepth, thickness, and gut capacity..
Can survive and thrive without all the “props”.
Why Cow Size Matters
All lactating/gestating cows need to consume
3.0% of their body weight daily in Dry Matter
(DM) for optimum performance.
So, a 1100 lb cow requires 33 lbs DM daily =
12,045 lbs annually.
A 1500 lb cow requires 45 lbs daily = 16,425 lbs
A 1800 lb cow requires 54 lbs daily = 19,710 lbs
Why Cow Size Matters
– TheThe 1800 lb1800 lb cow requirescow requires 21 lbs21 lbs more DMmore DM
daily than thedaily than the 1100 lb1100 lb cow andcow and 7665 lbs7665 lbs moremore
– Equals minimum ofEquals minimum of $230$230 difference.difference.
– TheThe 1500 lb1500 lb cow requirescow requires 12 lbs12 lbs more DMmore DM
daily than thedaily than the 1100 lb1100 lb cow andcow and 4380 lbs4380 lbs moremore
– Equals minimum ofEquals minimum of $131$131 difference.difference.
Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS
Chamorro people of GuamChamorro people of Guam
– Suffering ALS aat rate 100 x’s greater thanSuffering ALS aat rate 100 x’s greater than
anywhere else in the world.anywhere else in the world.
– Considered Flying Foxes (giant fruit bats) aConsidered Flying Foxes (giant fruit bats) a
– Bats eat huge quantities of Cycad seedsBats eat huge quantities of Cycad seeds
Cycad seeds contain high concentrations of BMAACycad seeds contain high concentrations of BMAA
(an amino acid)(an amino acid)
Produced by cyanobacteria in plant roots.Produced by cyanobacteria in plant roots.
– Also known as blue-green algaeAlso known as blue-green algae
BMAA is a very potent neurotoxin.BMAA is a very potent neurotoxin.
In massive amounts it causes paralysis orIn massive amounts it causes paralysis or
In smaller amounts, the effects are moeIn smaller amounts, the effects are moe
insidious and happen slowly.insidious and happen slowly.
Cyanobacteria produce BMAA.Cyanobacteria produce BMAA.
BMAA causes a slow breakdown ofBMAA causes a slow breakdown of
proteins in the central nervous system.proteins in the central nervous system.
Cause “Tangled-up” proteins.Cause “Tangled-up” proteins.
BMAA displaces a key amino acid in nerveBMAA displaces a key amino acid in nerve
proteins called L-serine.proteins called L-serine.
Okinawan’s have highest percentage ofOkinawan’s have highest percentage of
centenarians in the world.centenarians in the world.
– The eat high amounts of L-serine in their diet.The eat high amounts of L-serine in their diet.
Studies in monkeys showed that highStudies in monkeys showed that high
amounts of BMAA cause symptomsamounts of BMAA cause symptoms
similar to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS.similar to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS.
– Produced brain protein tangles and beta-Produced brain protein tangles and beta-
amyloid plaquesamyloid plaques
BMAA in essence turns a switch on thatBMAA in essence turns a switch on that
causes a cascading disruption in nervecauses a cascading disruption in nerve
proteins (tangling).proteins (tangling).
L-serine turns the switch off.L-serine turns the switch off.
““We are the cause of our own demiseWe are the cause of our own demise””
Cyanobacteria popping up in manyCyanobacteria popping up in many
Many cases where higher incidents ofMany cases where higher incidents of
neurological diseases are occurring nearneurological diseases are occurring near
lakes and bays with high levels of blue-lakes and bays with high levels of blue-
green algae bloomsgreen algae blooms
– New Hampshire, Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa,New Hampshire, Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa,
Biscayne Bay, Texas, Louisiana, ………..Biscayne Bay, Texas, Louisiana, ………..
– One large contributor - AGRICULTUREOne large contributor - AGRICULTURE 3737
What Causes Epigenetic
Effects in Livestock?
Soil HealthSoil Health
– Chemicals applied over time – fertilizers,Chemicals applied over time – fertilizers,
herbicides, fungicides, …..herbicides, fungicides, …..
– Microbial populationMicrobial population
Glyphosates significantly lower mycorrhizal fungiGlyphosates significantly lower mycorrhizal fungi
Total population & balance VERY important!Total population & balance VERY important!
– Water infiltration ratesWater infiltration rates
– Soil aggregationSoil aggregation
Plant species diversity & complexity
– Secondary & tertiary chemical (nutrient)Secondary & tertiary chemical (nutrient)
– Medicinal propertiesMedicinal properties
– Anthelmintic propertiesAnthelmintic properties
– Stronger microbial populationStronger microbial population
– Better mineral and water cycleBetter mineral and water cycle
– Build soil, water, and animal healthBuild soil, water, and animal health
Grazing & Livestock Management
– Play huge role in expression of genes.Play huge role in expression of genes.
– Many of the issues we experience are our theMany of the issues we experience are our the
fault of our own management.fault of our own management.
– Better grazing practices result in better geneBetter grazing practices result in better gene
expression and better performance & animalexpression and better performance & animal
– Do we manage for complexity & diversity orDo we manage for complexity & diversity or
for near monocultures?for near monocultures?
Cattle healthCattle health
Cattle fertilityCattle fertility
Milk component production & calf weaningMilk component production & calf weaning
weight and lifetime healthweight and lifetime health
Cattle longevity & soundnessCattle longevity & soundness
Exposure to internal & external parasitesExposure to internal & external parasites
Endocrine system functioning.Endocrine system functioning.
Compounding & Cascading
How can we influence?How can we influence?
Good or Bad – never in between.Good or Bad – never in between.
Building for FutureBuilding for Future