Certified ONYA® Beef:
What is it?
Certified ONYA® beef is the most tender beef we've ever had the pleasure of eating. And trust us, we’ve eaten A LOT of beef, including Kobe Wagyu beef in Japan (you know, the type that requires you to take out a second mortgage for a steak the size of your iPhone). Time after time, steak after steak, Certified ONYA® beef takes the tenderness trophy. Plus, it's bred, fed, and harvested 100% in Midwest America instead of being imported and shipped-in from around the world - put that in your carbon footprint and smoke it.
In the words of BetterFed customer Dana C., Certified ONYA® beef is, “As tender as an angel’s touch.” You’re damn right it is, Dana 🙌
Dr. Tom Peters, an owner of BetterFed Beef, developed the Certified ONYA® system with 35+ years in the beef cattle industry.
Okay, but what is it, and what makes it oh-so special?
Certified ONYA® beef is the beef that comes from the cattle in the BetterFed system. This system, developed by BetterFed Beef Co-Founder Dr. Tom Peters over his 35+ years as a consulting beef cattle nutritionist, consists of oversight, control, and management from conception all the way to consumption.
At the core of the BetterFed Beef system is a highly specialized genetic line of cattle developed by Dr. Peters that crosses Jersey mothers with beef bull fathers specifically selected for producing calves with the finest genetic traits for growing beautifully marbled & incredibly tender beef.
“Why Jersey cows?”, you may ask. Well, for several reasons. The first of which is marbling, or intramuscular fat.
Jersey cows are a famous breed of dairy cow originating from the Isle of Jersey in the United Kingdom. They have been specially selected over hundreds of years for their ability to transform forages and grains into beautiful, rich, and creamy milk. Because they have more butterfat concentrated in their milk, they're famous for cheese-making and for producing rich ice cream.
It is this same genetic ability to incorporate more butterfat into their milk that allows Jersey cattle to incorporate more fat into their muscle, producing better marbling. In addition to this, Jersey cattle naturally mature earlier than other breeds, which translates to more marbling in a younger animal, which brings us to another defining characteristic of Certified ONYA® beef: The age of the cattle.
16-18 Months: The Certified ONYA® Sweet Spot
Certified ONYA® beef comes exclusively from cattle aged between 16 and 18 months at the time of harvest. Beyond the fact that you’ll be hard-pressed to find this quality standard in any other system, this narrow window of eligible age is one of the biggest reasons our products are so incredibly tender, every single time.
Why 16-18 Months?
16-18 months of age is the sweet spot for Certified ONYA® beef tenderness, texture, and taste. This is because young cattle have less connective tissue (collagen and elastin) in their meat, making them naturally more tender than meat from older cattle. Just like with chicken, lamb, or any other animal, age is a critical factor for the tenderness of the meat. As cattle get older (above 18 months), their meat contains more collagen and elastin, which can lead to a stringy, hard-to-chew texture.
For comparison, the majority of beef consumed in the USA and around the world is from older beef cattle or culled dairy cows, including grass-fed cattle which are typically much older due to a slower growth rate as compared to our youthful, Midwest grain-fed steers.
Interestingly, our ability to provide beef exclusively in this age window is due to the breed of the cattle. Unlike traditional beef cattle which calve once a year (typically in the spring), our Jersey dairy mothers calve year-round, giving us a steady supply of perfectly-aged cattle at any time of year. Starting to see how this is all connected?
In addition to this one-two punch of better breed and younger age, all Certified ONYA® beef comes from 100% American cattle that are raised with great care by our producer-owner families, are fed specialized diets formulated by Ph.D. ruminant nutritionists, and meet the following minimum requirements:
• Born and raised 100% in the USA
• USDA Inspected
• Free from lameness and/or illness
• Dry aged a minimum of 14 days
• Approved marbling measurements
• Steers only (no females/cows)
• 16-18 months in age
• Raised in approved comfort facilities