There are more than grass v lot fed questions as regards taste, though it is
clear that lot fed beef will be much easier for folk without teeth to eat,
and if you go to the extreme of lot feeding, as with Matsuzaka beef in
Japan, the animal massaged and fed beer in the regular diet, you really do
have the tender Sumo wrestler of marbled beef.
Both range fed and lot fed animals can be victims of poor nutrition. On the
range, poor nutrition may be more evident, and the carcass downgraded (or
the poor looking animal is bought into the lot feeding business for
finishing. On the other hand, there are some strange inputs in some lot
feeding operations - for example, the feeding of waste from battery hen
operations to lot fed cattle may still produce an impressive carcass, and
the most impressive looking slab of lot fed steak may be from a very
strangely fed animal.
There are differences in the quality of lamb carcasses, by breed and more
especially with age (I write from a country where the sheep outnumber the
humans by seven to one).
Of very great importance also is how animals are treated between the farm
and slaughter. This is/should be an essential element in any organic
standard, that animals be treated decently. The carcass of an animal
slaughtered after a very stressful process of rounding up, trucking, running
through an auction, delivery to abattoir and other rough handling before
slaughter will be tough and tainted, with a low pH and at times strange
coloured, relative to the carcass of an animal which was slaughtered
unstressed. In the nature of things, the lot feed industry is more
industrially oriented, and lot fed cattle are often more likely to be direct
sold and experience less rough handling before slaughter.
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