Beef will be marketed as Grass Fed or Grain Fed.
Grass fed cattle have a distinctly yellow coloured fat and a rich, complex flavour profile. Australian Grass fed Beef is lower in Fat and Cholesterol and high in Omega3
Grain Fed cattle are generally “finished” on grain before slaughter, this is done to achieve consistency in the product with more fat and a tender meat. Grain fed cattle will have white fat and a “buttery” taste. There are three general variations: short-fed (100 to 150 days), medium-fed (150 to 200 days) and long-fed (200+ days)
Wagyu and other specialised animals are fed controlled diets to enhance particular qualities in the meat.
A Steer is a castrated male animal, this is done to improve meat quality and reduce aggression.
Much of the general meat in Australia is Yearling this is primarily an issue of not having year-round grass feed so supplementary feeding is needed to carry the animal longer. Some areas do have year-round grass.
The older an animal is the larger the cuts will be and the more developed the flavour will be.
Veal (V) Less than 70kg (154 lbs) dressed weight. Can be male or female, no adult teeth
Yearling (Y) Up to 18 Months old Male or Female, No adult teeth
Yearling Steer (YS) Up to 18 Months old must be Male, No adult teeth
Young Beef (YG) Up to 30 Months old Male or Female, 1-2 adult teeth
Young Steer (YS) Up to 30 Months old must be Male, 1-2 adult teeth
Young Prime Beef (YP) Up to 36 Months old Male or Female, up to 4 adult teeth
Young Prime Steer (YS) Up to 36 Months old must be Male, up to 4 adult teeth
Prime Beef (PB) Up to 42 Months old Male or Female, up to 7 adult teeth
Prime Steer (PS) Up to 42 Months old must be Male, up to 7 adult teeth
OX (female) (S) Up to 42 Months old must be Female, up to 7 adult teeth
OX (Male) (SS) Up to 42 Months old must be Male, up to 8 adult teeth
Cow (C) Over 42 Months old must be Female, 8 adult teeth, usually Ex Breeding Stock or Ex Dairy
Wagyu and Kobe beef are special breeds their fats contain a high percentage of monounsaturated fatty acids and will start to dissolve or render at 25°C (77°F), so care must be taken when cooking these products.