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Important Update: We’re on a production hiatus in 2024 and will return in 2025.

The Truth About mRNA Vaccines in Grass Fed Beef

We’re getting a lot of questions about mRNA vaccinations and how we raise our grass-fed beef. It’s great that folks are asking about how their food is raised! However, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. We want to give you the truth about mRNA vaccinations, from the point of view of a Kansas family beef producer. 

What the Heck is a mRNA Vaccine Anyway?

A ‘textbook’ description of mRNA vaccines is that the vaccine teaches our body how to recognize and fight off a specific virus. The vaccine contains a small piece of genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA), which provides instructions to cells on how to make a harmless piece of the virus (in this case, the spike protein of the coronavirus). So, basically, an mRNA vaccine is like a training program for our immune system, helping us prepare to fight off a specific virus.

How are mRNA vaccines given to cattle?

Currently, the mRNA vaccine is not approved for use in cattle. Therefore, it would be illegal for any U.S. livestock producer to use this unregulated and unlicensed vaccine. Additionally, we are unsure what the vaccine would be used against; I don’t think Covid-19 is much of a threat to our cattle herd. 

However, it’s important to note that the use of vaccines in livestock production is largely voluntary and left up to the discretion of individual livestock producers. Many producers choose to use vaccines as part of their herd health management strategies, but it’s not necessarily required by law in all cases.

Product of U.S.A Labeling (or mislabeling?)

Unfortunately, the United States meat labeling laws are very unclear. Many products that are labeled Product of USA were not actually raised in the United States, but either butchered here, or turned into a value-added product like sausage (with additives). In this case, there is no way to know what vaccinations those cattle may have had in other countries (like Brazil, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada).

Paradoxically, the big meat producers want to keep these labels intact. That way, they can import cheaper meat from other countries and make more of a profit. Small beef producers like us are harmed, because we are not playing with the same set of rules. The Big 4 Meat Producers own 80%+ of the market. Small producers are being forced out of business, because of unfair competition.

Vaccinations in Cattle

Nearly all cattle producers (us included) use a vaccine with just born calves, it’s called the 7-way. This shot is similar to the ones we are given as babies and toddlers to protect us from a wide range of diseases, like polio or measles. We never use any unnecessary vaccines or antibiotics with our livestock. It is our goal (and job) to make sure the animals are as healthy as possible and raised as naturally as possible.

There is a joke amongst cowboys that you will accidently vaccinate yourself, at least once, while working calves. Several years ago I missed the calf and got myself right in the hand with the 7-way. The good news is I am protected against backleg disease! Again, these vaccinations are critical to help calves survive into adulthood. BTW, there were no ill effects from the misplaced shot.

Advocating for Healthy Eating

Healthy eating and good nutrition are essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As an advocate for healthy eating, we promote sustainable livestock production and educate folks on the (better) nutritional value of naturally-raised foods. Grass-fed beef offers a better alternative to most store-bought meat that’s loaded with harmful additives. Grass-fed beef is much more nutrient-dense than traditional beef because it’s higher in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and other crucial nutrients. Choosing grass-fed and naturally produced foods is not only good for your health, but it’s also good for the environment. 

Antibiotic overuse in livestock is a significant issue. Industrially raised beef can be fed antibiotic laced feed for months at a time, even though the animal is not sick. That’s why we joined, to help raise awareness of this very important issue that affects us all. Coalition to Preserve Antibiotics

As advocates for producing healthy food, River Watch Beef is part of the U.S. PIRG Coalition to Preserve Antibiotics. This group is comprised of more than 80 doctors, veterinarians, farmers, ranchers and researchers. The goal is to work at all levels of government, industry, and academia to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use in meat production.

Nearly 2/3 of medically important antibiotics sold in the United States are used in industrial livestock farms (scary!). Antibiotic overuse breeds antibiotic resistant bacteria that can spread off of farms and sicken people with dangerous and potentially life-threatening illnesses (including MRSA).

<reference>New Coalition to Preserve Antibiotics Launches in response to dire Lancet report: 

About River Watch Beef

We’re River Watch Beef, a Kansas family beef producer. Our high-quality beef is 100% grass-fed & grass finished in the pasture. No GMOs, added hormones, antibiotics, or additives.

Questions? See our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page. Contact Us via our website. 

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Chris Kovac

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