Farm-Raised Game - Elk
"What is Game?" "Game are wild animals and birds. Farm-raised game are originally wild species of animals and birds that have been raised for sale under existing State regulations. Large native game animals living in America include antelope, buffalo, bear, caribou, deer, elk, moose, reindeer, and wild boar." Why is this important? Because "game species raised on farms under appropriate regulations can be sold. Wild game species, that can be legally hunted under Federal or State regulatory authority, cannot be sold, but can be harvested for personal consumption."
I have been involved in raising elk for 28 years now. (If you would like to see pictures of some of our elk, I'm including some on another site page.) For the first time we, and other elk farmers, have sufficient numbers of farm raised elk to begin to offer elk meat to everyone, not just to those interested occasionally in specialty meats.
"How Are Game Elk Farm-Raised?" "Game animals are either raised on farms or ranches. If ranch raised, the animals are allowed to roam at will over hundreds of acres, foraging off foliage. Farm-raised game live in more confined outdoor areas and are fed grains such as wheat, alfalfa, or corn. What the animal eats can affect the taste of the meat."
"How Does Game Meat Differ from Domestic Meat?" "Because their diets and activity levels are not the same as that of domestic animals and poultry, the meat of farm-raised game animals has a different flavor – stronger than domesticated species and milder than wild game. The factors that determine the meat's quality include the age of the animal (younger animals are more tender), the animal's diet, and the time of year the animal was harvested. (The best is in the fall, after a plentiful spring and summer feeding.)
Equally important is how the animal was handled in the field. The animal should be eviscerated within an hour of harvest, and the meat refrigerated within a few hours. Meat is damaged (and sometimes ruined) if it is not dressed, transported, and chilled properly.
In general, wild game is less tender than meat from domestic animals because the wild animals get more exercise and have less fat. Any fat is generally bad tasting and should be removed. For maximum tenderness, most game meat should be cooked slowly and not overdone. It can be cooked with moist heat by braising or with dry heat by roasting. Ways to keep game moist include basting, larding, or barding."
"Nutrition" "Nutrient data on game birds and animals can be found on the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Food Composition Database (search on the species of interest). . ." We have added nutritrion data to our site from this database, but we have also add other nutrition information from other sources supporting the concept that elk meat is a healthy choice to make."
Quotes taken from: Food Safety and Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Focus (Newsletter), October 1999. Food Safety Of Farm-Raised Game (article).