During the early years, additional research was ongoing, experimenting with differing methods of fermentation with varying levels of success. Mr. Hamilton was able to adapt the process and fermentation products to work into normal agricultural processes and practices, allowing for production scaling and success.

Ongoing experiments and real-world experience continued for several years with ranchers and farmers across the country, but the data and record keeping was spotty and insufficient to provide the level of information we were seeking. 

The Study

In 2018, Mr. Hamilton began his own in-house operations to provide the controls necessary and collect the data that we needed. We collected detailed performance data, tracking amounts fed, rate of weight gain, health, and temperament. Our test animals were in a separate enclosure and isolated from other animals on the farm. All of our calves came from the same herd, at the same time. Additional calves remained in the control herd, following traditional feeding regimens.

In the spring, we harvested and baled high-moisture alfalfa, applying fermentation culture at baling. All bales were wrapped and then set aside to ferment. In the fall, we acquired our first group of calves as they were weaned from their mothers.

The first test cohort of animals were purchased at 500-600 lbs and they were slowly acclimated to a consistent diet of fermented alfalfa, with free-choice trace element powder available as desired. The differences were quickly apparent. The fermented forage steers were consistently bigger, healthier, and more content than the control herd. There were no veterinary calls for the fermented steers, and they readily subjected themselves to handling at feeding time, while the control steers were much more skittish and agitated. The control herd had a chronic cough that didn’t really cause problems, but also didn’t seem to go away. The fermented forage herd had no cough.

The data from that first production year is summarized in the table below:

Average starting weight

550 lbs

Average finish weight

1250 lbs

Average hanging weight

740 lbs

Age range at finish

15-17 months

Feed conversion ratio




The control group, with a diet of grain and dry alfalfa, finished in a more typical range of 20-24 months.

The results and feedback from the processors were consistent with our early experiments with Mr. Stewart. The meat is tender and well marbled, and the fat cover is clean and white, noticeably whiter than typical grain-fed animals.

We have continued with new groups of calves each year, with consistent results. We even acquired some of our own mother cows and started them on fermented forage so we could see the effects when the calves have access to the benefits of fermented forage even before birth. We have experimented with fermented grasses, fermented cover crops, even fermented weeds. The animals eat them all, and they love them, though the fermented alfalfa will push the growth a little faster than the mixed forages. (All forages allow us to finish animals at 18 months or less, with consistent prime grades).