Perhaps you have spotted the 'free range' tag on some beef products or have heard the buzzword mentioned at dinner gatherings, or in your favourite restaurant, perhaps.
Here is a breakdown of the information behind the term, so you know exactly what it means next time you come across “free range”.
Need to know: Grass-fed free-range beef
THE FIVE FREEDOMS
The farming methods used for free-range beef all comply with the five freedoms, which define the ideal states for acceptable animal welfare.
These are: freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal behaviour; and freedom from fear and distress.
HOW OUR FREE-RANGE CATTLE LIVE
Animals used in the production of free-range beef roam freely. They eat grass as part of their diet, and are never given routine antibiotics or growth hormones.
This means they take long to reach slaughter weight.
THE BENEFITS OF FREE RANGE
Because free-range cattle are guaranteed free of all added growth stimulants and are never fed animal by-products or routinely treated with antibiotics, you do not ingest these either.
Adding value to Namibian beef starts in the veld, where farmers rear free-range cattle using natural methods. Farmers raise the animals on veld grass for most of their lives and do not use growth hormones or routine antibiotics in their rearing. Apart from using naturally reared cattle for its production and ensuring that they are treated according to strict animal welfare principles, Meatco further distinguishes itself by eschewing commodity trading as far as possible. So Meatco does not sell carcasses in international markets, but focusses instead on producing value-added, de-boned cuts of meat to meet various client specifications for customers across the world.
“Our aim is to add as much value to carcasses as possible and to thus closely align ourselves with the needs of the end consumer of our products. As a consequence, we are constantly developing our value chain by placing greater emphasis on the quality and unique characteristics of our beef. Almost 100% of the slaughtered animal is processed and sold. In this way, we can maximise value addition opportunities,” Meatco says.