Maybe you have heard of the “Know your farmer, know your food” movement.  In the consumer – farmer connection YOU are the best inspector to find out how your food is raised.  We have an “open door” policy here at the farm.  Visitors are always welcome to contact us for a visit.  Come see first hand how animals can be successfully raised on pasture alone to the benefit of all.

  • YOU are WHY we do what we do!
  • YOU are the one making change.
  • YOU deserve to see how your food is raised.
  • YOU are on a mission and we are glad to help.

We have added another layer of inspection at DS Family Farm for YOU the consumer.  For those who may not understand animal husbandry and exactly what it takes to be grassfed, you can now feel confident of DS Family Farm products.  We have completed the process to be certified by the folks at Animal Welfare Approved.

AWA and Grassfed Certified

DS Family Farm appreciates the work being done by Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) and are happy to announce that our farm is now part of the AWA family.

This certification program insures YOU:

  1. Animals raised and cared for based on science and timeless husbandry methods.
  2. Tracking animal welfare from birth to harvest.
  3. The term “Grassfed” is defined, AWA Certified Grassfed means something.

We will continue to promote the term “Pasture Grazed” since our animals live their entire lives on pasture.  Now YOU can rest assured that we do meet a certification standard for grassfed.  Do you want to see what we are talking about?  Please contact us for a farm visit.  Here are some families that have recently visited the farm (photo page):

  • The Spangler Family from Seward
  • The Derbish Family from Omaha
  • The Jay Family from Gretna

Feel free to stop by anytime.  Contacting us ahead of time will ensure someone is around to answer your questions.

Cattle are key to a healthy ecosystem, that is if we manage cattle in natures image.  Nature provides examples of how herds such as the bison of North America or the buffalo and wildebeest of Africa work as keystone species.  An important feature of these large animals is their ability to eat grass.  Much of the grass they eat, comes right back out the back end (POOP) as high quality nutrients that feed soil life and creates new grass.  The process is very simple and efficient.  The hard thing for us humans is to keep it simple.

In elementary school I remember when any type of nutrient cycle (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus) was shown as a graphic, the COW was the central or a key part of the process.

nitrogen cycle

The nitrogen cycle, note the cow! As an aside, legumes in our pasture “fix” atmospheric N for free. Industrial fixation of N requires 300 atmospheres of pressure and 1000 degrees F of heat!

Maybe you have heard the bad rap cows have received in the global warming/climate change discussions.  Basically that cows are adding to much methane (green house gas) to our atmosphere.  Here are a few things to think about:

  • Our current cow herd size in the U.S. is about 10 million fewer animals than historic bison herd estimates.  Not even counting the elk, deer and antelope that use to roam our lands.
    • How can fewer animals cause problems today when larger herds of the past built deep rich soils and abundance?
  • Methane from cattle on healthy pastures are quickly mitigated by soil microbes.

I think we can agree that cattle confined to dirt lots eating non-natural diets such as corn will produce more methane than grass based cattle.  So it is not the cattle causing the problem, if anything it is how humans manage the cattle.

Our nutrient cycles are now broken as pointed out in this article from Nature World News “Loss Of Animals’ Poop Disrupts Nutrient Cycles…”.  We need to get animals out of confined feeding areas and back out on the land.  Our lands are starved for the biological active nutrients that could be naturally cycling through large herbivores such as cattle.

Prior to brining cattle to our pastures in 2011, this farm had not had a cow on it for over 30 years.  We have re-established nutrient cycling in our pastures by using cattle in natures image and are starting to see excellent results in the grass we are able to grow!

Want to stay up on the most recent science of how beef can heal our environment?  Check out the Defending Beef FaceBook page.

Image source: UN-L Extension Circular 155.

Have you heard the term “Keystone Species“?  For example, think of the impact the American Bison had on our environment.  Prior to settlement of the central tall grass prairies, most everything relied on the movement of the vast buffalo herds.  Buffalo were a key species.


American Bison commonly referred to as buffalo, a keystone species.

The buffalo herds have been gone for more than a hundred years, but the impact they left behind drives Nebraska’s agricultural economy to this day.  We have literally been mining the soil/carbon/organic matter these animals created through their movement years ago.

Here at DS Family Farm we simply try to mimic the pattern nature has shown us through the bison herd movements (and other large herbivore herds around the world).  The only difference is we use cattle, planning and technology.  By following natures example we are rebuilding soil, regenerating prairies and restoring natural cycles within our pastures.

In a series of future posts, we will describe how we try to mimic nature with our Keystone Cows.

keystone species

Without the “keystone” the other stones become misplaced, out of whack or break down.

(Bison photo courtesy of USDA NRCS Photo Gallery)

We briefly touched on the Paleo topic in a few earlier blog posts but we are excited to share this Guest Post from someone local with real world Paleo experience.  We met Beth when she and her family visited the farm earlier this year to buy some of our pasture grazed beef.

By Beth Kohl

I had read about the paleo diet. I thought if you give up dairy, legumes, grains, sugar, and alcohol, what is left? Starvation?  I quickly dismissed it as anything more than a gimmick. I kept looking for the “Easy Button” for my health. I’d always been told any diet that eliminates entire food groups would lack nutrients and could not last, the “goal”, is always balance.  I had tried several diets, but I could not get away from strong cravings for sugar. I felt like a drug addict. When it came to candy and sweets, I would have a little and end up binging like crazy.

I needed to lose weight.  I had high cholesterol, high triglycerides, low energy, acne, depression, anxiety, restless legs, border line pre-diabetes, GERD, and an autoimmune disorder. My doctor was ready to put me on medications for several of these issues. I woke up 20 plus times a night and I had the sleep study to prove it.  Every morning I woke feeling like a truck hit me and I had a headache 80% of the time. A good day was no migraine. My normally good to low blood pressure had been creeping up to questionable level. I power napped every single day.  On the plus side, I exercised. I worked out for over 2 years with the guidance of a trainer; I had added a lot of muscle but had not lost weight.paleo

A few years after first hearing about Paleo, in desperation, I gave in and tried a popular diet “Whole 30”. This is an elimination diet that you stop eating dairy, legumes, grains, sugar, and alcohol. Giving up those items is the bulk of paleo rules. The first few weeks were not great, I felt tired as my body adjusted to all the changes. When I reintroduced dairy and wheat, I found (to my shock) that my body had a bad reaction. I was sick to my stomach, could not think clearly, I felt awful.  I decided to follow paleo but I had no guidance and Thanksgiving and Christmas completely derailed me.

Earlier this year, I talked with my doctor and decided to restart paleo, then return to the doctor in 12 weeks and get blood work again. Curious to see what, if anything, changed. I floundered the first 4 weeks with no diet change. With 8 weeks left, I added a dietician who specializes in paleo, to give me guidance.  Amy, really helped me to figure out what works and does not work for me. She has given me accountability, encouragement, and resources.

There are misconceptions and a few controversies regarding what paleo is, is not, and should be.   I only know how I eat and that it is considered paleo. My breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks consist of a variety of vegetables and fruits, quality protein, and quality fat.

I say “quality” before each food group because I’ve found that what happens to my food before I eat it is very important.  “You are what you eat” resonates with every paleo I’ve met, talked to, and every book I’ve read.  Whenever possible, I look for vegetables that are organically grown and non-GMO. I buy grass-fed beef, pasture raised chicken, lambs, and pigs, because they produce better quality meats, fats, and eggs. Fats include animal fats from pasture raised animals, ghee (clarified, grass-fed, butter), extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, tree nuts, and avocados. I get to have a variety of meats, fats, fruits and veggies, but always REAL, minimally processed food.

It is not as hard as it sounds. Now, a few months in, I can prepare a meal ultra-fast or something if I am having guests over. The best part is, no one knows that they are eating paleo, because it is just real food.  I can also go out and enjoy a meal in a restaurant. I have planned times where I eat items outside of the plan, but always avoid wheat and store-bought dairy, because they bother me, although I know many who use raw dairy with no problems.  I do not prepare separate meals for my family, and I have an extremely picky son. This is a way that I believe I can live for the rest of my life.

I tried many versions of low-fat and low carb diets all have been miserable failures. Now, I am eating a diet much like my grandmother did when she was young: real, nutritious food. I am eating a nutrient rich variety and not paying attention to calories.  I am not feeling deprived either.paleo

So, after 8 weeks of eating saturated fats, beef, eggs almost daily, bacon, and other “taboo” foods, watching portions, but without counting calories, what was the outcome?  These results are documented by my doctor: 16 lbs. lost, Blood pressure is low/normal, cholesterol is 30 points lower , and triglycerides cut in half, glucose and A1C (blood sugar) completely normal. I have found relief for depression and anxiety.  I no longer have cystic acne, restless legs are nominal, and I sleep soundly and rarely wake up during sleeping hours. I wake up each morning before my alarm goes off and I feel prepared to start the day. Headaches are rare for me now. The daily cravings for sweets are gone. I have energy for the whole day without my daily naps.

I know if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  This is not without price. The tradeoff of not eating certain foods may seem huge to some, but it is worth it to me. I’m convinced that the “gimmick” has been the best thing that ever happened to my health. I am not alone. My doctor had diabetic patients try this way of eating. Less than 2 months, the diabetics following the plan had normal glucose levels, that is HUGE. Guess who else started to eat this way? My doctor and his wife.

My scale is still moving in the right direction, but I’m not nearly as concerned by my weight as I one was, because I feel good. I might be paying a bit more for food these days, but I am paying WAY less in medical and pharmacy bills. I feel better than I have in years.  I do not know if it is for everyone, but I would urge anyone who has questions to investigate it for themselves.

I’d be happy to answer questions where I can, but I’m still a novice. If you want expert advice, I’d recommend you follow the links below.  Here is a link to my dietitian’s blog.  [].

[]  []  []  []

Wow, that is a powerful testimony!   Our thanks to Beth for sharing her experience.  If you would like to connect with Beth please drop us an email.  In addition to the links listed above, we would note that the Weston A Price Foundation recently aired a podcast with Chris Kresser, author of “The Paleo Cure”.  In the podcast Chris points out that there are people groups that have adapted to raw dairy very well through the years.  I (Doug) credits raw milk as one of the foods that helped cure my chronic Acid Reflux condition.  Probably the most important things we can do to achieve health is eliminate processed foods, start shopping the “edges” of grocery stores and then begin your journey to source local food from your neighborhood farmers.  Thanks again Beth for sharing!

Photo Credits: &

An update on our 2016 Beef Offering.  Here are a couple of photos of steers that we will be offering in September as custom processed beef.  These steers have just turned two years old and we look for them to gain well, over the rest of the summer.

Two year old DS Family Farm Steer. 100% grassfed and has spent it's entire life in our pasture in the same herd as it's mother.

Two year old DS Family Farm Steer. 100% grassfed and has spent it’s entire life in our pasture in the same herd as it’s mother.

Remember flavor is linked to:

  1. Age – typical grocery store beef is harvested around 16-18 months (bland flavor).
  2. Diet – our pastures contain diverse forages resulting in complex flavors (unlike bland corn only beef).
  3. Dry Aging – custom processed beef will be dry aged, grocery store beef is wet aged.
2016 Pasture Grazed (100% Grassfed) DS Family Farm Steer

2016 Pasture Grazed (100% Grassfed) DS Family Farm Steer. Steer is 2 years old and spent its entire life in our pasture, never in a dirt lot.

The forages consumed during the last sixty days are key to the nutritional make up of harvested beef.  These steers will be harvested directly off green growing forages, not stored forages.  The green growing forages will give the best possible fat profile as demonstrated from our 2015 beef analysis.  The fatty acid profile will be some of the best you can find.

Why don’t our steers look fatter?

We will add some excellent gains over the next two months but grassfed beef will never look “fat” like a feedlot steer:

  • Pasture grazed beef must walk for their food:
    • We don’t burn fossil fuels delivering feed to our cattle.
    • Cattle have legs, they can walk to feed and water.
    • The exercise keeps them fit.
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA):
    • A diet high in green forages = high CLA.
    • CLA is the anti cancer “fat”.
    • High CLA is believed to keep cattle leaner, prevents them from getting fat.

Do you want to be fit, trim and healthy?

Eat an athlete like one of our pasture grazed cattle that have high levels of CLA.  Avoid the couch potatoe feed lot beef found in your grocery store.

Please drop us a note if your interested in trying some of our pasture grazed beef.