Our Chalmar Cattle
Differentiating from the "pack"
We don’t buy market ready cattle from other feedlot producers and therefore we have complete control over the production process from the feedlot into the abattoir.
Chalmar Beef has the capacity to house 19 000 cattle on pasture. All young calves under 200kg's go onto pasture and are pasture reared for 3 to 5 months before entering the feedlot. These calves receive supplemental feeding which contains the nutrients required to build a healthy and strong immune system.
The supply of cattle to feedlots is very seasonal in South Africa. This leads to shortages of beef during certain times of the year. By rearing young cattle on pasture we ensure a consistent supply of cattle to the feedlot and ultimately beef on your plate throughout the year.
Before the commercial feedlot industry came into being most of the beef in South Africa was produced off grass. This meant that beef was freely available only seasonally, quantities were limited and therefore very expensive and the eating quality was very inconsistent. The reason for the seasonal supply of beef off pastures is because of the characteristics of our native grasses and our climate. Our native grasses can broadly be classified as sour veld and sweet veld.
Sour veld is very nutritious during the summer and cattle can grow well with little or no supplementation. As soon as the season changes from summer to autumn the grass withdraws the nutrition out of the leaves and stores it in the root system of the plant ready to grow once spring arrives again. What is left for the cattle to eat is a very low quality fibre. If you do not supplement the animals diet with protein and energy it may lose up to 20% of its body mass over winter. Therefore cattle produced on grass are typically harvested during the end of summer and autumn as they tend to lose condition during the winter months making them unsuitable for harvesting.
Sweet veld on the other hand retains its nutrition in the leaves of the plant during the winter. However the sweet veld grass does not grow during the winter and therefore does not regenerate. Sweet veld is also typically more sensitive to overgrazing and this limits the amount of cattle that can be stocked on sweet veld in the winter.
Grain feeding of cattle did not only solve the problem of seasonal supply, it also assisted with improving the beef. Cattle produced off grass are typically between 24 to 28 months of age vs. feedlot cattle which are harvested at 10 to 18 months of age. As the animal ages the connective tissue gets “stronger” and therefore the rule of thumb is the older the animal the less tender and juicy the beef.