Our cattle receive daily human contact during the winter and weekly in the summer. Most of the herd comes up to you for scratches, really they are more like pets than livestock. At no time do they receive any grains, we believe a diet of quality forage is the best choice to raise healthy cows. Calves selected for our grass fed beef program receive a high protein diet for meat development. We schedule them for the butcher at just over 1 year of age vs the standard 1.5 to 2 years old. The younger age provides for a tender and delicious steak.
We would like to discuss the factors we mentioned before that go into producing high quality beef. It is our belief people should know what they are eating.
We will start with genetics because that is where everything begins. Every cow in our herd was born here, this is referred to as
a “closed herd”. In our breeding program we purchase registered Red Angus bulls that will compliment our current genetics. Each spring we sort the cows into smaller groups based on their genetics and place them with the most favorable bull. We focus on raising thick heavily muscled cattle with a long loin and a good temperament. A thick, long loin will provide more prime cuts, like the well sought after T-bone steaks and porterhouse steaks, per carcass.
Without proper nutrition you can not reach your full genetic potential. Just like with people, nutrition is measured by the quality of foods we eat. All of our cattle’s feed is raised on the farm. During the summer the cows roam large pastures grazing as they please. While the herd is out to pasture, we are working hard raising the hay that will provide their nutrition through winter. During the winter we supply our cows with a mixture of orchard grass hay and alfalfa. Just like alfalfa has good health benefits to people, alfalfa is very healthy for cows too. It provides them with a lot of calcium for growing and milk production and it is high in protein growing nice, tender muscling in our cows. Most of our hay is raised under irrigation which allows the grass plant to grow very healthy and absorb all the nutrients in the soil.
We use the manure from our cattle as our primary source of nutrients for the growing hay. With the use of soil and hay tests we can determine if any other nutrients need to be supplied to the growing crop. By supplying proper nutrition to the plants we ensure our cattle receive a nutritious diet so they can provide that nutrition to you and your family.
Stress is a sneaky thief that slowly steals quality from the animal over time. When stressed out, our bodies release an enzyme that tightens our muscles in preparation to fight or flee. Each time his happens, the meats toughens more.
Most of the stress an animal will feel is caused by humans. With our herd receiving regular human contact from birth, we greatly reduce stress. Our cattle see us as caregivers, because of this we move cattle from location to location by simply calling to them and leading them to the gate.
Weaning can be a stressful time for mothers and babies. To reduce the stress of this, we use a process called “fence line weaning”. When we take the calves away from the cows, the calves are placed in a corral next to the pasture, this allows the cows and calves to still have contact but not nurse, so they can adjust gradually.
Without a doubt the greatest defense against contracting a disease is to never introduce the disease. By running a closed herd we eliminate the chances of introducing many diseases that could be carried by new animals. Unfortunately some diseases are spread by the air over long distances and only a vaccination program can ensure healthy animals. As calves they receive their immunization for most common air borne diseases and are dewormed before going to pasture with their moms. Their moms receive a booster shot and are also dewormed. Dewormer controls lice and internal parasites that weaken the animal by stealing valuable nutrients. However, animals intended for spring butcher will not receive booster vaccinations or dewormer in spring. The animals for fall butcher will receive dewormer in the spring but no booster vaccinations.
To treat and doctor our animals we do not use ropes or horses but use a line chute system instead. The line chute is a low stress way to direct and restrain the cow without bruising them. Bruising indicates the cow experienced pain which causes stress and damages the meat, which is unacceptable and should be avoided. Another way to improve the health of our animals and avoid bruising during winter feeding is by using our own design of feeders. Our feeders have an open design to allow cattle to move in and out freely while stimulating the natural grazing position.
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