Fat. The key to producing great grass-fed beef is to get the critters fat. But that comes last. Everything starts with the cow and the bull. Genetics are very important - some breeds simply won't produce tender and flavorful grass-fed beef. Angus is one of the top breeds for grass fed, and our animals are all primarily Angus.
Our calves are born in the spring. They spend their first summer season out on the range with their moms. Come autumn, instead of selling them to the feed lots, we wean our calves and then keep them through the winter when they get fed the alfalfa, grass, and oat hay we produce here on the ranch. If they had gone to a feedlot, their time on earth would be about over by now.
In late spring, instead of returning to the range, we turn them into our irrigated fields after our first cutting of hay. The idea is for them to have plenty of rich food to eat for the next three to four months. We move them from field to field every two weeks to keep them excited (the grass is greener on the other side). At the same time, we offer them free choice of rich hay as an easy snack. It works - in no time they look like black and red pigs. In the fall our neighbors at Kimberly Orchards are overrun with cull apples. We haul a few truck loads down and the animals enjoy some apples twice a day.
Other keys to producing the best grass-fed beef that we employ:
1. Our animals are always treated as gently as possible, keeping stress to a minimum. No stress hormones means better meat.
2. They are never malnourished - that can toughen the meat.
3. We use naturally mined salt that is full of minerals and offer other natural mineral supplements.
4. End of life is right here at the ranch. No stressful travel. No clue about what awaits and an immediate and humane end.
5. Slow cooling of the carcass and dry aging for three weeks. Dry aging is a traditional method in which the moisture in the carcass is allowed to evaporate slowly breaking down the muscle fibers with natural enzymes and producing richer flavor. Few producers of grass-fed beef can use this method as it requires a healthy percentage of fat covering the carcass.
6. Old-fashioned artisan style custom cutting to your specifications.
Finally, we are believers in a sustainable approach to our farming, not just producing great natural grass-fed beef. We are committed to leaving this property healthier than when we found it and that is something we work on daily. We can realize the same amount of income raising and selling direct one grass-fed cow as our neighbors can selling two in the commercial beef market. That means fewer cows on our land thus enabling it to heal from previous overgrazing and be a healthier place for the many wild grazing animals we share this place with: deer, elk, and antelope.
It's also interesting to note that properly managed grasslands have positive environmental impacts sequestering carbon, filtering water and increasing the ground's ability to soak up runoff. I saw a recent claim that an acre of grasslands can sequester more carbon that an acre of rain forest. I hope that's true!
We do not use pesticides. If a sick animal is ever treated with antibiotics, we won't be selling that animal to you. We are committed to transparency too.
So if you have other questions about the way we raise our beef, feel free to contact us.