Raising Pasture Grazed grassfed beef from conception to table is not an easy task. We may have four different animal classes in our herd at any one time. But it all starts with the COW, the factory on our farm!
THE COW FACTORY – here she is milking this year’s calf (far left) while grooming her calf from two years ago. Her two-year old calf on the right will be harvested this fall.
We make our cows work, they must:
- Conceive and raise a calf each year
- Raise that calf providing milk for 8+ months
- Refer to Weaning Weight Post 2015
- Weaning at an older age fully develops the calf’s rumen for grass based production.
- While milking a calf for 8+ months, she is developing her next calf inside her.
- While milking this years calf, she will watch over her previous two calves in a low stress herd environment.
- Graze our pastures in nature’s pattern to improve our pastures soil and grasses!
We ask a lot from our cows, but they love their job from what we can tell. They are definitely a factory when you look at all they crank out. The cows do all the above listed items and all we give them are:
If a cow cannot do all five functions listed above (calf every year while grazing every day) she is removed from the herd. No slackers allowed. There are very few cows that can do what we ask of our girls. We are just trying to mimic how nature works here in our small pastures. There is a movement underway across this country with more folks farming in natures image. This movement is called Regenerative Agriculture. We are not just “sustaining” our natural resources but IMPROVING our soils and grass while creating product! If you would like to support the Regenerative Agriculture movement, seek out products from these growers. Will these products be higher priced? Most likely yes. For the higher price you will get a better quality product and your health will thank you for it.
Let’s just say it takes an amazing Factory to deliver a product while at the same time improving its environment to repeat the cycle in the future. Take another look at what is happening in the photo. This photo is a great way to display why we are “Animal Welfare Approved” and “Grassfed Certified”. Farming in nature’s image, trying to work within God’s design (without messing it up too much).
DS Family Farm – raising beef using God’s design. Letting Cows be Cows! The steer on the right will be harvested this fall after living two plus years in the same herd with its mother. Always on pasture, never confined to a lot, never fed corn or other grains. Come see and taste the difference.
Unfortunately, our beef is not normal.
Looking at a “normal distribution” of HOW all beef is raised in our country, we are definitely weird!
Normal is for the masses, we like being weird! No status quo around here. Actually, if you look at the pattern of nature and IF you consider nature normal, then yes we are normal. That is why we say, “unfortunately, our beef is not normal”. We hope in the future that pasture raised beef will be the norm, until then, we choose to be weird.
Fortunately our weird is some folks normal. We are currently seeing great demand for our beef and are happy to spread the word and connect interested customers with other weird beef producers.
Weird vs Normal beef:
The problem with normal food.
Seth Godin points out that “Normal diets made it easier for mass food manufacturers to generate a profit.” We have seen the results of the Standard American Diet (standard = normal). Our society has reached a point where some of the masses are realizing that their diet is directly linked to their overall health and they are seeking out healthy/weird food.
“We are all on a diet, be on a healthy one!” – Dr. Joseph Mercola
Being weird is not easy, as Godin also points out, “Do the hard work – be real.” For real health, you are going to have to do some work! Raising REAL BEEF, in natures image requires some hard work and commitment. Give us a call and come see some Weird Beef. As Dave always says:
“Be Weird!” – Dave Ramsey
(If you have comments, please leave a message on the DS Family Farm FaceBook Page.)
Visit our farm if you are curious about how we care for the herd and pastures. Public roads boarder two sides of the farm, so drive by inspections are possible any day of the year. Please call ahead to make sure we are around if you would like to see the herd first hand.
Annual Farm Audit
If you are not able to visit the herd or wouldn’t know what to look for, we are glad to have an annual inspection to verify our beef herd as:
- Animal Welfare Approved
- Certified Grassfed
Who is inspecting who?
Kim Alexander recently visited the herd as part of our annual Animal Welfare/Certified Grassfed audit.
Auditor Kim Alexander visited the farm this year. This was our second audit and a new auditor comes each year. Kim walked the pasture and inspected the herd. The audit is completed every 11 months. This allows inspectors to view the operation during different portions of the year (growing season versus non-growing season). Following the field review, we spent some time going over plans and records for our beef operation.
Auditors Know Their Stuff
Kim just doesn’t check boxes as an auditor, he practices what he reviews on his own farm. What a great opportunity to have an experienced grazer like Kim come and look over our operation. We shared some ideas and gained some insights to what we are doing and how we could improve.
Change Is Good
We have a few years of grazing under our belt now but every year is different. What worked last year may not work this year. When working with mother nature we need to be ready to adapt. The factory where we produce beef for your table is not a climate controlled building with a consistent stream of incoming parts.
Change Is Required
That is what Kim was checking on. Are we ready to provide for our herd when the unexpected happens?
- Records document what happened.
- Records help us compare from year to year.
- Plans make us consider our pasture and our herd.
- Plans make us prepare for emergency situations.
If you are curious about the different plans and records we keep, just drop us an email. We would be happy to share with you what we are doing.
We advertise our beef herd as “Animal Welfare Approved” and “Certified Grassfed by AWG“, but what do these labels mean? I don’t know about you, but when it comes to checking out claims, I turn to Consumer Reports. In August 2015, Consumer Reports published a “Beef Report“:
Let’s take a look at some of the report findings:
Consumer Reports – Sustainable Beef-Production Practices:
- Cows are ruminants—their natural behavior consists of grazing. Allowing beef cattle to graze on well-managed pastures from birth to slaughter (often referred to as 100 percent grass-fed) is at the core of sustainable beef production. What’s good for animal welfare is also good for the environment and for consumers.
- … pastures can only feed herds of a certain size, and in a properly managed pasture, the stressful and crowded disease-promoting conditions of the feedlot are eliminated. Healthier, less stressed animals need fewer antibiotics and other drugs to stay healthy.
- Soils of grazing land can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Managing cattle carefully to ensure that pastures are grazed moderately means restoring soil quality and cutting greenhouse gases by keeping carbon in the soil as organic matter rather than releasing it into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
- More water is conserved in grass-based systems compared with conventional ones.
- Grass-fed beef isn’t just better for animals, public health, and the planet; it may be healthier for individual consumers as well.
If you have followed our past blog posts, the above findings are familiar information. It is nice to have the credibility of Consumer Reports back up what we know as common sense observations in the natural world.
OK, but what about labels?
The 2015 Beef Report had plenty to say about labels. From “Highly Meaningful” labels to labels that have no meaning at all. Please refer to the full report for all the label categories. A quick look at the first two labels under the “Highly Meaningful Labels” as “Verified” we find:
- Animal Welfare Approved
- Certified Grassfed by AWG
In a January 26, 2017 update at http://greenerchoices.org/, Certified Grassfed by AWG, is one of the four “labels to look for” when “choosing grass fed”.
Curious to read more?
Our farm is third party reviewed for Animal Welfare Approved and Certified Grassfed by AWG. For more information on these specific labels we direct you to these resources:
- A Greener World (AWG) — “North America’s most trusted and transparent farm certifier.”
- Animal Welfare Approved (Program of AWG), remains the only label in the marketplace to ensure the following:
- Meaningful, verified, outdoor pasture and range based systems–not just a door at the end of a building or an outdoor concrete run
- No cages, crates or feedlots–ever
- Verified environmentally sustainable farming and ranching
- Responsible stewardship of public resources like air, water, soil and antibiotics
- Independent farms/farmers meeting the highest animal welfare standards in the U.S. and Canada
- Prohibit the use of hormones (like rBST), animal byproducts or routine antibiotics
- Industry-leading high welfare handling and management from birth through slaughter
- Independent standards for the inspection of slaughter plants
- (January 2017 AWA Press Release)
- Certified Grassfed by AWG
- Guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100 percent grass and forage diet, raised outdoors on pasture or range, and managed according to the highest welfare and environmental standards on an independent family farm.
This is all good and well, but remember:
We invite you to come see the farm and our animals for yourself. Join other past visitors of our farm. We urge you to know your farmer and your food. We prefer to be certified by YOU, our customer.